What to watch: O-line a strength for the Redskins?

What to watch: O-line a strength for the Redskins?
August 19, 2014, 3:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports)

With the Redskins set to take on the Ravens, we take a look at the important matchups to watch for both teams. 

OFFENSIVE LINE

Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir - After a mostly uneventful first two preseason games for the Redskins’ offensive line, the Trent Williams-led unit will face its first substantial test Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. It’s preseason game No. 3, so both teams will treat it like a dress rehearsal, meaning starters will play at least a half, if not longer.

The subject of criticism and scrutiny a year ago, Williams and Co. will want to keep the pocket clean for Robert Griffin III, who has been sacked once in 40 preseason snaps and hurried only a few times. But it won’t be an easy task against a formidable Ravens’ lineup that features Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Daryl Smith.

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The Redskins’ line—Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester and Tyler Polumbus—was assembled early this offseason and has taken every first team rep together. But … things can change in a hurry in the NFL.

Guard Spencer Long and tackle Morgan Moses — both third round picks in May — were targeted early because the Redskins hope they’ll become starters sooner rather than later. So far, neither has managed to crack the first unit. But a weak effort by a starter on Saturday, coupled with strong effort from one of the rookies could start that conversation.

Ravens Insider Clifton Brown - Rick Wagner has won the Ravens' starting right tackle spot, but this could be his last action before Week 1. If Wagner plays well, he will enter the regular season with confidence. If he struggles, that will raise concern.

The Cowboys put pressure on Joe Flacco early, and Ryan Kerrigan of the Redskins had two sacks against the Browns. Left tackle Eugene Monroe and Wagner need to prevent Kerrigan and company from creating pressure off the edge. Getting Flacco nicked up before the regular season is the last thing the Ravens need.

The Ravens’ preseason running game has been impressive. The offensive line wants to continue that momentum. Left guard Kelechi Osemele and right guard Marshal Yanda have been winning their one-on-one battles with physical play. New center Jeremy Zuttah has the starting offensive line in sync, but this is the final dress rehearsal for starters prior to Week 1. Coach John Harbaugh will be looking for a clean game from the offensive line – no false starts, no costly holding penalties.