Kendall Confronts A Chemistry Test

Pete Kendall, acquired from the Jets on Aug. 23, quickly picked up the Redskins' terminology, but subtle communication is tricky.
Pete Kendall, acquired from the Jets on Aug. 23, quickly picked up the Redskins' terminology, but subtle communication is tricky. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 6, 2007

It only took guard Pete Kendall about a day to pick up the terminology used by his new Washington Redskins teammates and coaches. But now, he conceded this week, comes the tricky part of changing teams in late August: developing chemistry with the unfamiliar players who surround him.

That means learning to interpret center Casey Rabach's gestures at the line of scrimmage. It means sensing when tackle Chris Samuels needs a little help on a blocking assignment. And it means knowing where quarterback Jason Campbell is without having to look around.

These take considerably longer than learning the lingo of the Redskins' offense. How much longer is one of the biggest questions facing the Redskins as they prepare for Sunday's season opener against the Miami Dolphins and their all-pro defensive end Jason Taylor at FedEx Field.

"It's a veteran group, so we'll do whatever it takes, as best we can, to speed up the learning process," Kendall, 34, said.

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for the 11-year veteran, who was acquired from the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick on Aug. 23. He has rented a furnished home in Ashburn, moved his family from their native Weymouth, Mass., and helped his wife, Michelle, enroll their three children, Peter, 9, Madison, 7, and Andrew, 5, in school.

Living with his family is something else Kendall will be adjusting to this season. But this adjustment, he said, is a welcome one. When he played for the Jets, Kendall lived on Long Island during the season while his family remained in Weymouth. On Monday afternoons, he would climb into his pickup truck, drive four hours on traffic-choked highways, arrive home in time to tuck his children into bed, spend Tuesday with his family, then return to Long Island in time for practice on Wednesday morning.

His commute in the Washington area is going to be considerably shorter.

"I'm excited," said Kendall, who was a first-round draft pick by Seattle in 1996 after a standout career at Boston College. "I haven't spent an autumn with my family since 2003."

Driving weekly from Washington to Weymouth was impossible, he said. "It was the combination of the fact that it was un-drivable and that we were able to secure something as quickly as we did. If weren't able to secure something so quickly, I would have been in JetBlue's frequent flyer program."

Despite the seemingly never-ending list of to-do's Kendall has dealt with in recent weeks off the field, and the learning curve he's faced on it, he said he couldn't be happier about his new situation.

He had been in the midst of a contentious contract dispute with Jets management at the time of the trade. An offensive co-captain in New York, Kendall reportedly sought an additional $1 million over his $1.7 salary, a raise he felt had been promised to him. But when the Jets refused to broach the subject in the spring, Kendall went public with the details of the disagreement on the first day of minicamp in June, angering management.

The Redskins, meantime, had been seeking a left guard to replace departed free agent Derrick Dockery after failed attempts to fill the void with tackle Todd Wade and backup Mike Pucillo.

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