For Redskins, Rabach Is Front and Center

Casey Rabach takes a water break in the high heat of afternoon practice. The 6-foot-4, 301-pound center possesses good speed and agility for his size. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)
Casey Rabach takes a water break in the high heat of afternoon practice. The 6-foot-4, 301-pound center possesses good speed and agility for his size. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

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By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 6, 2005

As a member of his high school track and field team, Casey Rabach wasn't satisfied with merely participating in the shot put. So despite his bulky physique, Rabach became a sprinter in a race for oversized athletes -- mainly football players -- called the weight man's relay.

"We called it the fat man's relay to tell you the truth," Rabach explained with a hearty laugh at Redskins Park yesterday. "It was something fun we did at the conference meet. You had two guys at either end of the 50-yard line. It was 100-yard sprints back and forth. It was more comical than anything, but it was a good time."

Growing up in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Rabach wasn't satisfied with playing one sport. Rabach, who possessed speed and agility that belied his size, put his physical gifts to full use: As a kid, he took up swimming, tennis and baseball among other sports. At Sturgeon Bay High, Rabach was also on the varsity basketball, wrestling and football teams.

"I tried to do everything," Rabach said. "I hated sitting around at home watching television. I probably played every sport there is to play growing up and through high school."

Now an NFL player, the 6-foot-4, 301-pound center is putting his athletic ability -- and versatility -- to use for the Washington Redskins.

"He's good in space," said right guard Randy Thomas. "A lot of centers are tight in the hips. He's pretty loose in the knees and the hips. He's got good bend."

Rabach's quickness will help him block for tailbacks trying to get around the corner, and on screens that are an integral part of Coach Joe Gibbs's offense. Rabach's speed also allows him to dart several yards from the line of scrimmage for blocks against linebackers.

Joe Bugel, the de facto offensive line coach, added: "He's a good puller. He can run real fast for a big guy. He has super quickness inside, but he's very powerful."

Rabach, who played his first four NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, doesn't just rely on his physical gifts. He is known for a combination of savvy and sound technique. Rabach is adept at making line calls and adjustments to help the quarterback. The agricultural journalism major hasn't had one botched snap in offseason practices this season. "He's a sharp guy," said quarterback Patrick Ramsey. "He works really hard, and he's vocal. That helps everybody be on the same page."

Today at noon, the Redskins participate in a scrimmage against Rabach's old teammates at M&T Bank Stadium.

"There are a couple of restaurants I'll visit, but I'll just say hey to the guys and come home and see my wife and baby," said Rabach, who has a 6-month-old girl, Alana Nicole, with wife Nicole.

Owner Daniel Snyder's Redskins underwent an uncharacteristically quiet offseason in terms of headline-grabbing moves to acquire free agents. Rabach was the first player Washington signed when free agency opened March 3. The Redskins provided a stretch limousine that took Rabach from Baltimore to Redskins Park in the early-morning hours. By 2 a.m., Rabach signed a six-year, $18.5 million deal as Washington's starting center. "He was the package we were looking for," said Vice President of Football Operations Vinny Cerrato, "as a person and a player."

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