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A return to reserve roles...


BuddyLeeGhostHunter

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Originally posted by Bubba.

http://washingtontimes.com/news/200...-reserve-roles/

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A return to reserve roles

Fabini, Heyer adjust to being backups again

David Elfin

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No one expected much from Jason Fabini or Stephon Heyer a year ago.

After eight years as a starting tackle, Fabini had been cut by two teams in a little more than a year and was considered washed up. Stephon Heyer had been bypassed in the NFL Draft after missing the 2005 season at Maryland following reconstructive knee surgery.

However, when the Washington Redskins made their 4-0 run in December to make the playoffs, they did it with Fabini and Heyer on the right side of their offensive line. Washington averaged 360 yards and 23.3 points in the four regular-season games that Heyer and Fabini, who had never played guard, started in place of injured regulars Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas.

But as the Redskins prepare to open their 2008 preseason Sunday, both players are expected to return to their reserve roles. Fabini will back up Thomas and Pete Kendall, while Heyer will start this weekend for Chris Samuels at left tackle before returning to the bench, perhaps as soon as next week. Samuels, who had offseason elbow surgery, still has not returned to full contact.

"You never want to be a backup, but as your career goes on, you've got to accept your role," said Fabini, who will turn 34 next month. "Last year, I didn't know if I was going to make the team. A lot of teams wrote me off and said I was done. I knew I wasn't. Playing guard kind of just happened, and it worked out for me."

Well enough that the Redskins were among the NFL's better offenses with the 6-foot-7 Fabini taking a full-time role in the lineup in the Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Thomas tore his left triceps in the second quarter of that game and missed the rest of the season.

And after a brief hiccup in the loss to the Eagles - Fabini had two false start penalties on one drive - he had just one enforced penalty the rest of the season, a holding call in the loss at New England.

"Jason came light years. He really did," said center Casey Rabach, a former starting guard who worked with Fabini after practices on the adjustment to playing inside. "By the end of the season, he was playing as well as anybody on the line."

"Fabini was in some ugliness at times, but he got the job done," offensive line coach Joe Bugel said. "I told him, 'Just be a speedbump. Give yourself up but don't give the quarterback up.' He's a slow starter, [but] he got better and better at the position."

Today, Fabini takes all his snaps at guard and doesn't want to return to tackle.

"When you're used to reacting a certain way your whole career, it takes a while to get used to reacting differently," said Fabini, who had to leave Tuesday morning's practice with a stomach illness and couldn't go in the afternoon session. "Things happen quicker inside. Now it's like second nature. I love guard. I hope it extends my career. I was satisfied with how I played last year. The real rewarding part was down the stretch when everybody counted us out, and we had a little run that we needed. That was the most fun I had had in a long time."

Heyer was equally satisfied with his NFL debut. The rookie took over for Jansen - who broke his fibula and dislocated his right ankle in a victory over the Dolphins in Week 1 - and the Redskins gained 400 yards of total offense. Todd Wade took over at right tackle in Week 2, but Heyer replaced him as the starter before the Dec. 6 win over Chicago, which started the Redskins' four-game winning streak to end the season.

Heyer, who had returned to start all 13 of Maryland's games as a senior in 2006 after missing the previous season, held his own against some of the NFL's best pass rushers. His highlight came when he held future Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan without a sack as the Redskins whipped the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants at the Meadowlands in December.

"Stephon did a terrific job of listening to [bugel] and the guys around him," Jansen said.

First, we beat the Eagles in week two. Sheesh!

Second, I'm glad we have some quality depth along the offensive line. Heyer played well last year. I can't wait to see what our rookie can do.

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I kind of hope Rinehart ends up starting. All his reports ahve been great thus far. Plus, Pete Kendall is great in pass blocking, but horrible in run blocking. Having Thomas and Jansen back helps the running game, but we need someone to replicate at the other guard spot.

Then again, switching to more of a zone-blocking scheme may also negate the necessity of pulling guards and whatnot.

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Essentially Rabach is being nice about Fabini, and if you read between the lines, Buges is basically saying that Fabini sucks...which unfortunately, he does. If he's in there at any time this year, we're going to struggle up front. I'd be surprised if Rinehart doesn't/hasn't already beat him out for the RG/LG 2nd string spot.

The beat writer is a joke. How do you f' that up? A MNF game against a division rival and you make the mistake and say that we lost? :doh:

How did this get to print? :laugh: He must be more of a Nats fan than a Skins fan :silly:

HTTR

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LoudMouth12thMan

Essentially Rabach is being nice about Fabini, and if you read between the lines, Buges is basically saying that Fabini sucks...which unfortunately, he does. If he's in there at any time this year, we're going to struggle up front.

Dude was a tackle all his football life and switches to guard give him a break already. We made the playoffs with him at guard, and if he sucks how did he ever make it to the NFL in the first place?

Fans like you are crazy to me, you act like everyone is supposed to be all world even considering the circumstances at hand. You know that the guys he was blocking were not new to the DT position right?

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LoudMouth12thMan

Essentially Rabach is being nice about Fabini, and if you read between the lines, Buges is basically saying that Fabini sucks...which unfortunately, he does. If he's in there at any time this year, we're going to struggle up front.

Dude was a tackle all his football life and switches to guard give him a break already. We made the playoffs with him at guard, and if he sucks how did he ever make it to the NFL in the first place?

Fans like you are crazy to me, you act like everyone is supposed to be all world even considering the circumstances at hand. You know that the guys he was blocking were not new to the DT position right?

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I think our best backup lineman right now is Stephon Heyer. He did a hell of a job during the stretch. Frankly, I think the debacle at Seattle was an instance where Buges got outcoached. There aren't many right tackles in the league that can deal with a healthy Patrick Kerney one-on-one, so I don't understand why the hell there wasn't more shifting to his side. Seattle's DTs aren't that great.

But then again...Fabini was a crap guard. If we'd at least had Randy Thomas back that wouldn't have happened.

Now that we've got Heyer and Rinehart, they need to go ahead and cut Todd Wade. If we get into THAT much trouble, they could always resign him, but he's not that good. He's not fast enough to play the tackle position (which is why Heyer ended up taking his job), and he's way too big to play guard. He's 6-8, about 315. That's an offensive tackle, and a large offensive tackle at that. There's no way he should have been playing guard at any point last year.

I'm glad we drafted a couple of O-linemen this year to address the depth issue. While I don't anticipate half of our linemen going down with IR-type injuries this year, I feel better about the depth now than I did at the end of last season.

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I think Stephon is going to become a solid contributor for us. I was hesitant about him but he seems to have taken it seriously and got in great shape and wants to be a big contributor. I think I will be happy with him as Jansen's replacement. He needs to go up against Carter and Taylor more in practice so he gets better and doesn't get anhialated by Patrick Kerney again.

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How crazy is it that our heir apparent to Samuels, a number three pick overall, is a kid out of Maryland who went undrafted?

Heyer played well for a rookie last year. I'm excited to see a Monty-like ascension to his second year.

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I like the idea that we have depth again.

Two guys had to play significant downs during our playoff run (Fabini and Hyer). Wade is solid and Rinehart is promising.

That gives us two potential future starters and two vets with experience as depth. If we can add a couple more potential future starters next year, I'll be thrilled!

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