Going in to the 2002 season, the only real effort the Redskins made to shore up the middle of their offensive line prior to summertime was to sign Larry Moore away from the Indianapolis Colts. Moore had played both center and guard in his NFL career but the Redskins tabbed him as their starting center the moment they signed him.
Who would be starting around him remained a mystery as the season opener approached. The guards for the opener turned out to be Brenden Stai, acquired in a trade with Detroit a few weeks before the season started, and David Loverne, a castoff from the Jets. As the team struggled offensively in the early going, much of the blame went to the weak middle of the line. The players on either side of Moore kept rotating as the season wore on. Stai went down with a knee injury, Wilbert Brown moved in. Alex Suflsted replaced Loverne for a few games. Tre Johnson played in some passing situations.
Moore played well at times, particularly against his old team, the Colts, but the Redskins never did gain much offensive continuity. Time after time whoever was playing quarterback for the Redskins wound up getting punished by pass pressure from up the middle. Stephen Davis was a poor fit in the offense to begin with but his productivity was further hampered by the lack of running room up the middle.
The Redskins went to upgrade the guard position this offseason. Randy Thomas of the Jets was a sought-after free agent that the Redskins signed to a lucrative deal early in free agency. Dave Fiore and Lennie Friedman were second-tier free agents the team picked up, Johnson was re-signed and they took the massive Derrick Dockery with their third-round pick.
With Thomas expected to become a fixture at right guard and with Fiore penciled in on the left of Moore, the pressure is on Moore to show that the poor interior blocking last year was in spite of his presence, not because of it.
Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has detailed coverage of every game the Redskins played from 1937 through the 2001 season. For details, go to RedskinsAtoZ.com
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