Chase Roullier enters his second season as the starting center, working to improve all facets of his game, including developing his relationship with new quarterback Alex Smith.
The Redskins host their annual rookie minicamp this weekend, which center Chase Roullier remembers being a bit of an overwhelming experience last year.
"It is a crazy situation just because you've got the guys that have been signed and you got all the tryout guys so it's a lot of rookies out there at one time," Roullier said. "But it's a fun time, it's your first opportunity to start learning the offense and work with Coach [Bill Callahan.]"
Roullier enters the 2018 season with much more certainty. The team chose not to re-sign Spencer Long in the offseason, meaning Roullier will take over at center full-time, a position he got some valuable experience starting in seven games last season.
After Long injured his quad in the sixth game of the year, Roullier took over for him and started the next four games at center. He fractured his right hand against the Saints and missed the next three weeks but finished out the season. They were all experiences he valued – even the coaching he received from former center Kory Lichtensteiger before the season started – and now, hand fully healed, he's looking forward to taking the next step in his career.
"They helped me out tremendously," Roullier said. "Obviously Spencer being the starting guy when I came in, he had a lot to teach me and he was really helpful for me. When I first got here, Kory was doing some interning and stuff so he was able to give me a lot of tips and tricks behind the scenes. After Coach Callahan could say something, Kory would give you a little extra input. And that was very helpful having two veteran guys to help with every little thing that I've been doing out there, just little techniques and different mental things to learn as well."
The Redskins enter the year with a new quarterback, which has obvious consequences for Roullier as he works to establish a new rapport with the man taking his snaps each practice. "Alex will be closer to me than anyone out there it's quite obvious," he joked, later clarifying that he will have a special connection with him as they work more and more together.
Take a look at the images from Alex Smith's first day with the Washington Redskins.
The first couple of days during offseason workouts, Roullier worked exclusively on Smith's cadence to get on the same page for the spring. He said it was a little bit of a change to adjust to his tempo.
"We need to be able to get off the ball fast, we need to know exactly how he's going to say it each and every time, and so that's a little bit of a learning process and it took us a couple days to get that down," Roullier said. "In practice, there's some growing pains with that initially, but it's just something that a few reps, it doesn't really take much, you get to know your quarterback's cadence pretty easily and we've already gotten to know Alex's."
As he begins preparing for OTAs, he knows the value this week will have on rookies – especially those offensive lineman trying to earn their spurs.
"There's a lot to learn from Coach Callahan," Roullier said. "Anything from working with our bungee set, it's like we're out there each and every day, learning to be quick on our pass sets or stay rooted in our run blocking. There's so many different things that I've learned from Callahan, but rookie minicamp was a great time to start learning all that stuff."
He suddenly finds himself with the opportunity to impart some of his own wisdom from a year in the league to the newcomers. For now, Roullier is ready to get everyone back and start rolling.
"I'm just excited to see this team go out there," he said. "We were really banged up last year and I'm excited to have all those guys back and some new talent in the facility. It's going to be a fantastic year with all these guys and I'm just excited to see it all pan out and everyone out there being able to play nice and healthy."