(photo by Brian Murphy)
When it comes to personality, offensive linemen are typically pretty vanilla. While big in stature, many linemen throughout the league simply prefer to fly under the radar and let their play do the talking.
Thankfully, that’s not the case with Casey Rabach.
Not only is the Washington Redskins center willing to be accountable and stand up in front of the media week in and week out during a 4-12 season, but he’s also one of the go-to guys when you’re looking for a light-hearted interview with a player who never takes himself too seriously.
We caught up with the 32-year-old earlier this week, if for no other reason than to see why a man who was completely drenched in sweat after a grueling two-hour “voluntary” June workout looked like there wasn’t any other place he’d rather be.
“This time of year is always fun,” Rabach said. “It’s nice to see all the guys out here working so hard. That’s one thing that is reassuring – seeing all of these guys out here every day busting their butts and working hard for a guy who has proven to be a winner in this league. Hopefully good things will happen because of that.”
Okay, let’s not beat around the bush. Are you going to have an RV out in front of Redskins Park this year or not?
(Laughs.) “We’ll have to see,” he said. “We put a bulletin up last year to rent one, but that never came through. I guess it all depends on how Mike Shanahan runs his camp. I’m not sure if we’ll do it yet.”
He’s made it clear that he doesn’t want people taking up multiple parking spaces, so as long as you’re not doing that you should be good to go, right?
“Yeah, we might have to rent some space across the street or something,” Rabach said.
Last season the offensive line took a ton of criticism. What have you seen so far this offseason to make you think things will be better this year?
“First and foremost, the guys who started these minicamps and OTAs are still there,” he said. “That’s huge because one of the biggest downfalls we had last year was the number of injuries that forced guys in and out of the lineup. If we can stay healthy, that’s huge. If we can do that, I think we’ll be a pretty decent offensive line.
“The scheme is really going to help us this year,” he continued. “The new coaches, I think, will help us this year. And obviously, the new guys we’ve added will help us out as well. Guys like Artis [Hicks], Trent [Williams] and whoever else.”
If we’re being honest, it’s virtually impossible for slugs like us to evaluate offensive linemen when you guys are running no-contact drills in shorts. What have you seen from a guy like Artis Hicks since he joined the team?
“Not only has Artis been in the league a long time and knows a lot about playing on the offensive line, but he’s a heck of an athlete,” Rabach said. “He really is. He’s very technically sound as a football player. Each day, you can see him get more and more comfortable in this offense and as that happens, he’s continuing to excel.”
And the rookie?
“He’s the real deal, man,” he said. “Trent is a heck of an athlete. I don’t think he’s quite grasped the full concept of the offense just yet, but what he’s lacking right now in understanding and technique, he more than makes up for with his athletic ability. Sometimes he puts himself in some funky areas, but he definitely has enough athletic ability to compensate for it and pick up his blocks. I’m really excited for when he understands everything and can just go out there and play football because he’s going to be a heck of an asset for us.”
This offense added a big-name quarterback during the offseason. What have you seen so far from Donovan F. McNabb?
“The first thing you notice is his confidence at that position,” Rabach said. “He’s a guy who has done some really good things in this league for a number of years. You’re not going to second guess him and wonder if he’s going to be able to make a certain play or throw. He’s confident and so is everyone else in his ability to be a leader on this offense.
“And honestly, he’s just a good, all-around guy,” he continued. “He keeps things light, when we’re able to keep things light and he puts in the work when it’s time to go to work.”
Some folks might wonder how a guy can walk into a brand-new locker room and instantly become a leader. What is it about this guy that commands that type of respect from his peers?
“It’s the respect that everyone has for him around the league,” Rabach said. “Especially guys on this team, because we’ve seen him twice a year. We know what he can do in this league. But more than that, he’s able to be just one of the guys. He’s putting in the time and he’s also hanging out with the guys and B.S.ing with us. He walked in and didn’t try to hide in a shell or separate himself from the rest of us. It was easy to adopt him as part of this team.”
Why should Redskins fans be optimistic that this season is going to be any different from the last few disappointing seasons?
“You can’t tell a whole lot in these camps and OTAs because we’re in shorts and stuff, but the thing I love the work ethic of this team,” he said. “We all come to work every single day – offense, defense and special teams – and we’re working our butts off. I think that’s going to pay huge dividends down the road. We’re putting the work in and we’re going to keep on pushing forward.”