With Brandon Scherff and Shaun Lauvao out for the season, Trent Williams still not practicing and Morgan Moses banged up, the Redskins offensive line was depleted entering Week 10. To counteract the injuries and help add some depth, the team announced the signing of three offensive lineman on Monday: Luke Bowanko, Austin Howard and Jonathan Cooper.
As the three begin their time in the Burgundy and Gold, here’s what we’ve learned about each.
G Luke Bowanko
Bowanko is no stranger to his new location. Growing up in Clifton, Va., and playing at the University of Virginia, the Redskins facility in Ashburn, Va., is just a short drive from where he spent the early years of his life, growing up as a Redskins fan.
“Yeah, big Skins fan,” Bowanko said on Wednesday. “Obviously the Sean Taylor years were great years. Watching Casey Raubach run around back in the day, he’s an inspiration to me.”
Besides seeing a familiar logo on his new jersey, he’s also reuniting with some familiar faces. Morgan Moses was his teammate at UVA, and although they only played a few games together, they still have a close bond, even joking around in the locker room.
In the midst of speaking with the media, MOses creeped up behind him to inquire about what he was saying. “Nothing man, just telling them about how fricken handsome you are, man,” Bowanko said with a smile.
In addition to Moses, Bowanko has also shared the field with one of the other linemen signed on Monday. In 2017, he lined up with Austin Howard as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Sitting on a couch just a few days ago, getting into the mix can be a hectic time for Bowanko. Having Moses and Howard to work with helps make the situation a little less stressful.
“It’s always beneficial to come in here and know somebody and not just walking in cold,” Bowanko said. “Offensive line is a very tight-knit, camaraderie type deal. Takes time to gel with people, the fact that I played with Austin a little bit last year and Morgan in the past obviously helps.”
Before spending last season with Howard and the Ravens, appearing in all 16 games, the 27-year old’s career had some ups and downs. A sixth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bowanko started 14 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars in his rookie season, showing promise. However, injuries would derail his next two campaigns, and in 2017 he was traded to Baltimore.
Following his time with the Ravens and a short training camp stint with the New England Patriots, Bowanko finds himself with an opportunity for redemption. A chance to play a meaningful role for a team he grew up idolizing.
“It’s another opportunity to prove myself. I’ve kind of bounced around and looking to be able to help somebody out. Just trying to help this team win games, that’s all.”
T Austin Howard
Like Bowanko, Howard is equally as excited to have some familiar faces helping him through the transition. Besides his former Ravens teammate, Howard also gets the chance to reconnect with Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan.
The two spent just one year together while both were on the New York Jets, but Howard still carries a great amount of admiration for Callahan. Ready to make his return to the NFL, he’s excited to do it with a coach who he believes is one of the best in the game.
“He’s known around the league for being one of the best offensive line coaches, Howard said. “Just the work ethic, attention to detail. He makes sure that every guy gets better a little bit each and everyday.”
Originally a tight end for the Northern Iowa football team and a power forward for the Universtiy's basketball team, Howard made the switch to offensive lineman in 2008. After going undrafted, Howard has played for four teams in his seven-year NFL career, starting in 88 games.
Even with some success, he found himself without a job heading into the 2018 NFL season. Knowing he still wanted to play football, he began making his way through the tryout circuit. When he got the call from the Redskins, Howard believed it was a perfect fit.
“This one felt pretty good, walking into this building it felt really good,” Howard said about the tryout. “Atmosphere is phenomenal, the teammates here are awesome. I was really hoping things worked out, and fortunately it did.”
G Jonathan Cooper
The seventh-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Cooper entered the league with a great amount of hype. However, injuries have since hindered his ability to consistently perform on the field. An injury to his fibula during his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals forced him to miss the entire 2013 season.
From there, numerous other dings have led to Copper bouncing around the league, going from the Cardinals to the Browns, and starting just 12 total games during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. After starting 13 games for the Dallas Cowboys last year, Cooper was signed and then released by the 49ers prior to the 2018 regular season.
Now, as a member of the Redskins, Cooper hopes to demonstrate that he still has the ability to act as an important cog in the offensive line. To get there, he’ll have to adjust on the fly and get accustomed to the football lifestyle.
“I think the fact that I just haven’t been playing, been at home on the couch, I think that’s the biggest adjustment to make,” Cooper said. “But you know, O-Linemen, we’re all pretty similar, even keeled, no primadonnas. Just come in there, plug and play, good group of guys. I’m enjoying myself.”