Entering the 2005 season, Derrick Dockery had started 29 consecutive games for the Redskins, the longest streak of any player on the offensive line--and the entire offense, for that matter.
It's been on-the-job training for the 6-6, 332-pound left guard. Coaches like his potential, but Dockery was part of an offensive line that struggled at times in 2004. He knows he has to stay aggressive and keep working hard.
Dockery, a former Texas Longhorn, used the offseason to continue his development, often working side-by-side with teammate Chris Samuels.
Says Dockery: "This year, I'm able to really focus on getting stronger, getting my body prepared for the season. I think I'm headed in the right direction in terms of my ability to compete at the NFL level."
Samuels, who plays immediately to Dockery's left, signed a contract extension in March that makes him a Redskin long term. That was important for both the team and Dockery.
"I think Derrick looks up to Chris," assistant head coach/offense Joe Bugel said. "When you have a high-profile guy like that, a guy who works hard in the locker room and the classroom, I think the younger players take note."
A native of Lakeview, Texas, Dockery enters his third NFL season as a young player the Redskins are counting on to have a productive 2005 campaign.
"I need to be humble, but at the same time I need to be hungry," Dockery said, when asked to explain his outlook for 2005.
He wears the No. 66, once the number of Joe Jacoby, one of the best offensive linemen in Redskins' history. Jacoby was an outstanding player between 1981 and 1993, and Dockery is well aware of the fact that he's taken on the number of one of the leaders of the celebrated "Hogs" offensive line.
One of the new wrinkles for Dockery is that he's likely to be playing next to a new center in 2005. The Redskins have added former Baltimore Raven Casey Rabach.
Says Dockery, who started 13 games in 2003 after having being selected in the third round (81st overall) by the Redskins in 2003: "This year, I'm able to really focus on getting stronger, getting my body right for the long haul. I want to make sure that I have a bright future here."
If the Redskins can get out of Dockery anything close to what they received from Jacoby over the years, they'll have developed a first-rate offensive lineman.