ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Chad Rinehart certainly fits the role of the stereotypical Iowa lineman: Raised in a small town, worked on a corn farm, grew to 300 pounds and played football at a state university.
Rinehart, the son of a truck driver and a school teacher, bailed hay and detasseled corn before enrolling at Northern Iowa. Of all the Washington Redskins rookies, perhaps none is getting better reviews at training camp than the third-round pick from Boone, Iowa - population 12,000.
Rinehart has the intimidating look down pat, having shaved his head and face to leave only the slightest layer of stubble. He's also one of the last offensive players to leave the field after practice.
``He's a tough dude,'' offensive line coach Joe Bugel said. ``He's got good football intelligence, and he's one rookie that came in and is not intimidated. A lot of those guys get saucer eyes, you line up against Jason Taylor and probably want to get his autograph. He's really come along in camp.''
Coach Jim Zorn has said that Rinehart will play a vital role for the Redskins this season, a reflection of the concern over the fragile state of the starting offensive line. The ``Dirtbags'' - Chris Samuels, Pete Kendall, Casey Rabach, Randy Thomas and Jon Jansen - make for a solid five when healthy. But they are all in their 30s, and all but Rabach have had recent injury problems.
So the Redskins drafted Rinehart and have made him a multipurpose insurance policy by working him at tackle and guard, a tough assignment for a rookie given the complex blocking assignments of a pro offense. He played both positions in the Hall of Fame game last weekend. On Saturday against Buffalo, he'll work exclusively at left tackle, his most comfortable position, because of injuries to backups Stephon Heyer and Todd Wade.
``He's caught everybody's attention,'' Zorn said. ``And on the o-line, I think it's hard to break into the crusty group. He's done a really nice job earning their respect.''
Part of earning that respect comes from the extra work Rinehart put in after practices this week. While others walk to the locker room, he remains in the baking sunshine, practicing his stance and his pass-protection footwork by himself.
``Practices here are a lot more team-orientated, and you don't get to work on technique a lot,'' said Rinehart, his face soaked in sweat moments after his final solo drill. ``I noticed when I wasn't doing anything (extra), my technique started to falter a little bit, so I just need to keep working on it.''
Otherwise, Rinehart said he hasn't been overwhelmed by the move from college to the NFL. He said it helps, from an Iowa native's lifestyle perspective, that the Redskins are headquartered in the distant Virginia suburbs of Washington.
``I kind of like it out here. It's a little ways away from the city,'' Rinehart said. ``It's not too high-paced.''
Ideally, the Redskins hope Rinehart spends the bulk of the regular season cooling his heels on the bench while the starters remain injury-free. When the older players start to give way, whether this year or next year or the year after, Rinehart is expected to help lead the next generation of Dirtbags.
``I don't think the adjustment's been too great,'' Rinehart said. ``I'm still playing football. I take the same approach as I did to college. I just go out every day and try to get better.''
Notes: Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan paid his first visit to Redskins Park to watch the morning practice and chatted at length with Zorn and several players. Jordan's 10-year-old son, Jaxson, worked the JUGS machine during special teams drills. ``It's fun to meet guys from different sports,'' Zorn said. ``He saw some details that maybe other people wouldn't see.'' ... One day after re-signing with the Redskins, FB/TE Pete Schmitt opted to leave the team. ``He just stepped aside and said, 'You know what? Maybe this is not for me,''' Zorn said. The team filled the roster spot by re-signing S Justin Hamilton, who had been released in May. ... RB Rock Cartwright missed practice with sore ribs, and CB Shawn Springs remained sidelined with a strained right Achilles' tendon.
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