ASHBURN, Va. -- For the second year in a row, the Washington Redskins' season has become defined by injuries. Three starters will undergo season-ending surgeries, coach Jay Gruden said Monday, threatening to derail what had been a promising start.
Guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao and receiver Paul Richardson all are done for the season after Sunday's 38-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Scherff tore his left pectoral muscle, and Lauvao tore his left ACL. The Redskins signed veteran tackle Austin Howard and guards Luke Bowanko and Jonathan Cooper as a result.
"You can't replace a guy like Brandon," right tackle Morgan Moses said Sunday. "He's the best guard in the NFL. ... For us right now, it's the next man up."
Richardson has battled through a shoulder injury since training camp, then later hurt his knee. There had been previous weeks in which he considered shutting it down, but he continued playing until making this decision Monday.
The Redskins are 5-3 and in first place in the NFC East, but they're also minus starting left tackle Trent Williams for at least another game and possibly three because of a dislocated right thumb. Gruden said he's hopeful Williams will miss only two more games, but he admitted that was an optimistic viewpoint.
Gruden said Washington will sign at least three offensive linemen and one of them might need to start Sunday at Tampa Bay. The only two original starters will be Moses at right tackle and center Chase Roullier. They can start veteran backup tackle Ty Nsekhe in place of Williams and Tony Bergstrom at left guard. They have undrafted rookie free agent Casey Dunn on the roster but are hoping to find someone with experience to possibly start at right guard.
Washington's offensive strength had been the run game. The line had developed a rhythm with Adrian Peterson, helping him rush for 604 yards so far this season.
The Redskins endured a similar situation in 2017 when they used 36 different offensive line combinations. They won a game at Seattle in which only one original starter, Moses, played.
The Redskins now have 13 players on injured reserve; they ended last season with 23 players on IR. But Gruden said there aren't any lessons that will help them in 2018.
"Not really," he said. "It's something you don't want to go through, but it's pro football and you have to go through it. ... We can't slow down. The train doesn't stop."
A week earlier, Gruden had touted Scherff as the NFL's best pulling guard.
The Redskins signed Richardson in the offseason to a five-year deal worth up to $40 million, wanting more speed at receiver. He had suffered a torn ACL in Seattle during a playoff game in 2015, but it was his shoulder that spoiled his first Redskins season. He hurt it early in training camp and eventually the bone started to become visible, almost poking through his skin. Richardson insisted on playing despite the issue, but it required having his shoulder numbed before games.
"Paul's been dealing with this thing all year and he toughed it out for eight weeks," Gruden said. "The pain has been bothering him so much. He needs to get it fixed. Commend him for his efforts trying to play for the eight weeks that he played, but it's time to get it fixed."
Richardson started at the "Z" position opposite Josh Doctson. Richardson caught 20 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns.
Washington can use Maurice Harris or Michael Floyd in Richardson's place. Harris has filled in at the slot for injured Jamison Crowder, but Crowder might return this week from a sprained ankle after missing the past four games. That would enable Harris, coming off a 10-catch, 124-yard game, to play more outside.
They also have veteran Brian Quick who can help. Rookie seventh-round pick Trey Quinn -- aka Mr. Irrelevant, the final pick in the draft -- is on injured reserve with an ankle injury and might start practicing this week.
At least they have players experienced in their offense to replace Richardson. It could be tougher along the line.
"We'll be fine," Gruden said. "We just have to make sure we stick to the plan and keep it fairly simple, but not too simple. We're still going to challenge our guys to do some great things, and hopefully the guys we sign can fit right in and play."