Describing the most challenging aspect of his introduction to the pro game, guard Spencer Long pinpointed the pace at which he and his fellow rookies had to go about things at the Redskins’ rookie minicamp this past weekend.
During a three-day span, Long and his counterparts went through multiple classroom sessions and then practices. They tried to absorb as much as possible and then carry out instructions on the field and make good impressions on coaches.
“It’s the speed of things, how fast we’re installing and then making that transition out on the field,” Long said when asked about the most challenging aspect of camp. “It’s just been learning and then immediately you have to go out there and do it without making any mental mistakes. They’re cramming in as much as they can because we just started. So, that transition from meeting room to the field.”
Although the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Long had to learn new terms and calls, he also observed a degree of familiarity.
“The Redskins run a lot of zone, and so it’s something that we did a lot of at Nebraska with both coordinators that came through,” said Long, a starter at Nebraska for 2 1/2 seasons before having his senior campaign cut short by torn posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee. “The wide zone is stuff that I’m used to. The calls are different, terms, that’s the hardest part – learning all the terms and figuring out what means what. But it’s been an okay transition so far. … There are little differences, like aiming points and stuff like that. But the general overall scheme is the same, so it helps.”
Long also drew encouragement from how his surgically repaired knee responded to the three days of action. Since mid-March, Long has worked out without limitation. But he noted, “You can never really get used to football speed. This is totally different from workouts. It does take a while to get used to it, but I am feeling pretty good.”
Redskins coach Jay Gruden and his assistants liked what they saw from Long.
“He did a great job,” Gruden said. “From the first [session] to the fourth [session] of practice, you could see how effective he’s going to be, how smart he is, No. 1, how physical he can be. He’s athletic enough to do whatever we want in the zone game. He’s smart enough to pick up the blitzes and the line stunts. He’s going to be competitive right away.”
Long spent the rookie camp working at right guard. That spot in the starting lineup belongs to Chris Chester, a ninth-year veteran, who hasn’t missed a start in the past three seasons with Washington. Adam Gettis – a 2012 fifth-round pick – has spent the past two seasons practicing behind Chester, and Washington also signed seventh-year pro Mike McGlynn to provide improved depth.
Long understandably has his eye on the starting job, but he says he will take a simple approach as he competes throughout the offseason, training camp and the preseason.
“Really, just focus on things you can control, do your best and don’t hang your hat on mistakes and losses,” he said. “Obviously, you have to learn from them, but don’t let them bother you in the future. You take it play by play, come out here work hard and let the chips fall where they may.”
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