Last Sunday, when Brandon Scherff missed a few plays with an injured knee, center Chase Roullier hopped over to play right guard and Tony Bergstrom filled in at center.
The drop off wasn't too dramatic – Scherff came back during the next series – but it highlighted what the Redskins will do this Sunday against the Packers, as left guard Shawn Lauvao won't play with a calf injury.
For the time being (Gruden doesn't believe Lauvao's injury will require and IR designation), Roullier will lean on his experience playing left guard in college, where in 2015 he earned All-Mountain West honors and was rated by Pro Football Focus as the No. 1-overall graded offensive guard in the nation his junior year.
"Yeah I mean it's always a little bit of a transition. It's something I definitely have to get back in the swing of, but I did play so much guard in college and I've even been mixing it a little bit during the year this year," Roullier said. "It's been pretty smooth, obviously there are a little bit of growing pains here and there, things I need to get better at technique-wise because I haven't been necessarily doing those techniques in such a long time so, I definitely need to work on those but for the most part the feeling of it is coming back."
Check out these photos of the Redskins' preparing for their Week 3 game against the Green Bay Packers Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
The Redskins, of course, are used to shuffling the offensive line, and it's how the team ultimately felt comfortable with making Roullier the starting center this season. He subbed in for Spencer Long last year and, despite dealing with his own injuries, showed enough on tape to take over the position.
"It is a challenge anytime we have anybody that has to move positions, or any guys that's new to the lineup, it's definitely a little learning curve to get them caught up to speed on how we do things," left tackle Trent Williams said. "But with Tony being a veteran, and knowing the offense inside and out, Chase kicking over to guard, those are two of the smarter guys in the offensive line room, so I think they'll be okay."
Switching back to guard isn't ideal as Roullier tries to gain more momentum and chemistry with quarterback Alex Smith under center, but he understands the value in being versatile.
"For the most part I was starting to feel comfortable at center, and I always had to have the mindset of the guy that was going to move over there if that happened," Roullier said. "So you know even the last couple games whatever I have to study as a guard, so it's something that's always in the back of my mind when I go do if I need to and I'm happy to do it. I loved playing guard in college, it's still a very fun position for me to go out there and do it."
The only hitch this week, Roullier said, took place on Wednesday during walkthrough, when he walked up to the line of scrimmage and began pointing out assignments, forgetting that was Bergstom's responsibility now.
"I'm obviously giving him the reins on that and helping out in whatever way that I should as a guard," Roullier said.
If anything, Roullier acknowledges that some of the extra mental work required at the center position won't be his responsibility for now. Guard presents different challenges, like facing defensive tackles more often than nose tackles or two- and three-techniques, but they're ones he prefers.
"You get to kind of go out there and just play instinctive football a little more than center can be sometimes," Roullier said. "Center can be a little more of a mind game obviously because you're thinking about a lot more. So it is kind of nice to just go up there and you know just be instinctive like I said. But I obviously love both positions and I'm excited to play guard."
With the experience of last year, and the synchronicity of the line, nobody seems worried about the adjustments.
"The poise that he's had, his ability to retain information whether it's mentioned to him once, twice. He's one of the fastest learners I've been around," Williams said. "He has exceptional feet. I don't think a lot of people realize his balance is very good and he's strong. He plays with good knee bend and he's going to be an outstanding player in this league for years to come for sure."