Ready to fight for more playing time during 2016 season, Arie Kouandjio is taking his year of learning in as a rookie and using it to adjust how he's approaching the game.
Arie Kouandjio's NFL career has gotten off to a difficult started. Kouandjio played only one offensive snap and was active for only three games during his rookie season. It was not the ideal start for his Redskins tenure.
It was especially hard for Kouandjio at times seeing his younger brother, Cyrus, enjoy early success with the Buffalo Bills while he learned from the sidelines on gamedays.
Still, Kouandjio, 24, is young and at 6-foot-5 310 pounds has the size that the Redskins coaching staff is looking for in their rebuilt offensive line.
"I learned a lot last year," Kouandjio said recently on "Redskins Nation." "Patience was probably the biggest lesson having to sit out a year coming from where I came from. It was really hard but being at Alabama, I learned a lot of life lessons, one was patience there, too. Here, I was ready mentally for it, basically my biggest focus was getting better last year and getting better little by little every day and, I believe firmly that if you focus on that, eventually everything is going to come together. I've put in a lot of work in the offseason and I'm ready for my seat at the table."
There is very little reason to doubt that Kouandjio will not be a contributor very soon for the Redskins as he has had success on every level.
While in high school at DeMatha Catholic he was rated as a four-star recruit and helped his high school win two conference championships in football.
During his time at Alabama he helped the Crimson Tide win two SEC championships and two BCS National Championships while also becoming an AP All-American. He was then was then drafted by the Redskins who still hope to see that success continue even after an unsuccessful rookie season.
One thing working in Kouandjio's favor is that he is versatile and can play multiple positions on the offensive line. He is also very open to playing anywhere that is needed.
Check out these photos of Alabama offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio. the Redskins' 112th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
"I can play anything it's just a matter of where the team needs me," Kouandjio said. "I've kind of groomed myself and with my trainer in the offseason, Ryan Bergaman down in Tampa."
He also has the luxury of working under offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who has established himself as one of the best position coaches in the NFL today.
"He's very fair, he's very tough, too and it's great," Kouandjio said. "Everybody knows what kind of work we put in, the O-line specifically, everybody sees it around the building and even though it's hard… we really do enjoy it. We really do enjoy working hard."
This offseason, Kouandjio has highlighted footwork and hand speed as two of the areas in his game he most needs to prove on.
He's gone back to Alabama and incorporated boxing into his training regimen, trying his hand at "mostly bag work."
And, believe it or not, he also worked on avoding punches from kids that would come into the building.
"One thing that [my trainer] had done in this offseason, he would put a bunch of little kids that come into there and they would just work on hitting me and I would work on dodging them, works on agility and stuff like that," Kouandjio said. "He's a great guy and he's helped me out a lot and he helps a lot of guys in that area."