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Back In 'Tip Top Shape,' Shawn Lauvao Earns Starting Role


More than a month after returning to the field, Shawn Lauvao earned the right to once again be in the Redskins' starting lineup this season.

Reflecting on what he's been through over the past year, Shawn Lauvao said it is "real humbling" to know he's not only made it back to the field, but he's now the Washington Redskins' starting left guard heading into the regular season opener.

Check out the entire Washington Redskins' 2016 roster in photos.

"I think just the biggest thing was to show [the coaches] that I could compete at a high level," Lauvao said of his return. "Honestly, competition makes everybody better. I think like anything, you'll go back to the drawing board, figure out what you can improve on, and just build off that."

Lauvao started last year on a positive note, helping the Redskins run for more than 100 yards in each of the first two games of the season.

Then the Arizona State product would suffer a season-ending ankle injury in a Week 3 loss to the New York Giants. What followed were multiple surgeries to correct issues in both feet.

Slowly making his way back to the field, Lauvao said the time away made him appreciate the game even more.

In his first five NFL seasons, he appeared in all but 12 games. He missed 13 games in the 2016 season alone.

"Me and Niles [Paul] had some time off, just to figure some things out," Lauvao said. "It's kind of frustrating, because you want to be out there. I think a lot of times people don't realize the type of commitment and things guys will do for the team. So that's hats off to everybody – just in terms of the support, in terms of the coaching, and just like I said before – the support."

Lauvao and Spencer Long engaged in perhaps the best spirited battle for a starting position, but ultimately it was the returning veteran who earned the spot.

"Shawn has done an excellent job," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We weren't sure how Shawn was going to recover from his feet issues and he's come back in a big way. He was our starter before Spencer became the starter when Shawn got hurt and Shawn has proven he's back in tip top shape and done an excellent job. I feel great about both of those guys, I really do. I wouldn't bat an eye whoever was in there – Spencer or Shawn – but we run out on the first play of the game against Pittsburgh, it'll be Shawn this week."

The Steelers are a familiar foe to Lauvao, who started eight games against Pittsburgh when he was a member of the Cleveland Browns.

While there are quite a few new faces on the unit, their production -- particularly from the front seven -- really hasn't changed much.

"The one thing, they have always had the same scheme for years," Lauvao said. "It's crazy how they just reload guys. There are guys still there; James Harrison is still playing at a high level. That just kind of shows what type of an organization, the type of guys they are able to get, and just guys they can plug in where there's no drop off. Lawrence Timmons is another guy still playing at a high level."

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