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Redskins' blockers cut to chase
Redskins training camp report

 Derrick Dockery and his fellow linemen are learning the nuances of cut blocking.
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Date published: 8/17/2010



Artis Hicks fired off the line of scrimmage during the second quarter Friday, sprinted to his left and then unleashed one of the most important elements of the Washington Redskins' new running attack: the cut block.

The tactic is a major reason why the Denver Broncos ranked among the NFL's top 10 in rushing during 12 of Mike Shanahan's 14 seasons as head coach. It also has been a lightning rod for controversy at times during Shanahan's career.

Because the technique requires an offensive lineman to block a defensive lineman below the waist, it puts the defender at risk of a serious knee or ankle injury. When executed properly, however, it is legal and quite effective.

"In this game, you can't play thinking about fines and what-if-this-happens," Hicks said. "You have to play all-out and let the chips fall where they may.

"Don't get me wrong, we're not out there trying to take guys out and end careers, but you have to play with reckless abandon at times. That's the mindset you have to have."

The cut block is essential to the success of Shanahan's zone running scheme, coaches said. Here's how it worked during the second quarter of Friday's win over Buffalo:

Running back Ryan Torain took a handoff and ran toward the left sideline, patiently waiting for a hole to open. Simultaneously, the Redskins' offensive linemen came out of their stances and ran left, and the Bills' defensive line followed in pursuit.

Once the defense started moving, Hicks, the right guard, and right tackle Stephon Heyer "cut" the lineman in front of them. Hicks connected with nose tackle Torell Troup's lower half, and Troup was staggered enough to be pushed out of position.

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