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Skins offensive line shifts by necessity


HERNDON, Va. -- Two weeks ago, when the Washington Redskins broke the huddle with a 42-20 lead over Miami and four seconds to kill, right guard Mark Adickes whispered to right tackle Ed Simmons and they switched places.

"Just for the hell of it," Adickes said. "I wanted to be able to say I'd played three positions in one game."

Adickes may be doing that in New England tomorrow (4 p.m., Channel 11), and no kidding.

The Redskins (8-5) are better staffed than the have-not Patriots (1-12) in everything but offensive tackles. With Simmons out for the season with a wounded knee, the only tackles-by-trade are Jim Lachey and Joe Jacoby.

If either is hurt, or weary, the Hey-Rube tradition of the big-top circus will be in effect: Whoever is nearest goes in first.

Actually Adickes goes first, because he has been practicing at tackle and has played the position before.

"Well, left tackle," he said. "In preseason games and in the USFL." Before becoming the resident right guard for the Kansas City Chiefs, Adickes served two years with the Los Angeles Express of the U.S. Football League.

Right tackle, even four seconds of it, was a totally new experience for Adickes. But should Jacoby need relief against the Patriots, Adickes is it.

It is difficult to make a crisis case when the opposition is the disorganized Patriots. But offensive line coach Jim Hanifan is doing some necessary improvising this week.

Utilitarian Raleigh McKenzie (a quite valuable, quite under-sung Redskin) could play tackle very nicely. But he will be starting at left guard because Russ Grimm's shoulder remains sore.

So Mark Schlereth will be making his first start at right guard since Sept. 30. He subbed after Simmons was hurt late in the game last Sunday, but was inactive for four games before that.

Schlereth recovered from his ankle injury some time ago, but he hasn't gotten enough practice. "This is the first week I've had a lot of reps [repetitions]," he said. It is procedural in the National Football League that only the starters get adequate practice.

Nominally the Redskins have eight offensive linemen, but Scott Beavers, the rookie signed to fill Simmons' place, probably will be one of the two inactive players this week. It is not reasonable to expect a new player, especially a rookie, to learn the Redskins' complex offense in a few days, or even a couple of weeks.

"Yes, it's hard," Beavers said. "Especially coming from a system like Denver's, which is pretty straightforward. One thing is that the odd-numbered plays here go to the left, even to the right. In Denver it was the opposite."

"I take the playbook to the hotel and study," Beavers said, "and the coaches help. Coach [Rennie] Simmons meets with me prior to practice."

"It's scary at first," said Schlereth, who was a rookie last year. "Now I study to learn my own position. But in the beginning I was studying just to understand it. In college you're used to maybe two kinds of pass-pro [pass protection]. Here you have a bunch of them."

The Redskins' offensive scheme has contingencies to meet almost any defense, Schlereth said, which is what makes it complicated.

"You come out of the huddle and see they're in a 4-2 kind of front, when they'd been playing a 4-3," Schlereth said. "So you adjust. But first you think: 'What do I have to do now?' "

Beating the Patriots will be quite sufficient.

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