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Early On, Rinehart's Taking Positive Steps

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Chad Rinehart has some definite goals for himself heading into Saturday night's preseason game against the Buffalo Bills at FedExField.

"Number one, you have to show that you can be a consistent player," said Rinehart, the Redskins' rookie offensive lineman drafted in the third round out of Northern Iowa. "Then you have to earn the trust of your teammates."

The 6-5, 311-pound Rinehart has taken positive steps on both counts in training camp this year.

Rinehart admitted to a mid-training camp "slump" in which he slipped back into bad habits. Offensive line guru Joe Bugel had helped him with his technique for months.

"My technique just started breaking down and I started losing confidence once I started getting beat a lot, but I keep on going out there to work on it," he said.

Going up against the likes of Andre Carter and Jason Taylor, even in practice, can impact the confidence of any rookie lineman.

"If you have a little hitch in your game, they're so good that they'll expose it," Rinehart said.

Rinehart played most of the Hall of Fame Game against the Indianapolis Colts, seeing action at both guard and tackle.

Now, with Todd Wade and Stephon Heyer battling injuries, Rinehart is preparing for a more extensive look against the Bills.

In general, Jim Zorn praised the work of his rookies, Rinehart included, versus the Colts.

"Chad did an excellent job for a young guy," Zorn said. "He was really aware what's going on. As he continues to get more reps, he will continue to improve."

Zorn said Rinehart's chances of sticking around are enhanced due to his versatility.

"I wish we could keep him at one position," Zorn said. "For a rookie to come in and play both positions, and do decently, we're pretty excited about that."

What about earning the trust of his teammates, one of Rinehart's top goals this preseason?

It's easier said than done with a veteran corps that consists of Chris Samuels, Pete Kendall, Casey Rabach, Randy Thomas and Jon Jansen.

"I think it's hard to break into that group--they're a bunch of crusty guys who are close-knit," Zorn said. "He has done a really nice job earning their respect."

Added Rinehart: "I want to show that I can avoid the ups and downs. I want to show that I can play consistent football, that I can be a player who can be counted on. I want my teammates and coaches to feel that."

At the college level, Rinehart, who is from Boone, Iowa, appeared in 40 games and made 37 starts at left tackle.

Rinehart was named to the 2008 National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Hampshire Honor Society after compiling a 3.30 GPA in sports psychology.

It took Joe Flacco, a first-round pick by Baltimore at No. 18 in this year's draft, to put a damper on Rinehart's senior year.

Flacco passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns to spark Delaware past top-seeded Northern Iowa 39-27 in December in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals.

Rinehart's Northern Iowa team (12-1) had been the last unbeaten team in the playoffs.

He's the first offensive lineman chosen by the Redskins as high as the third round since 2003, when the team opted for University of Texas guard Derrick Dockery, who has since moved on to the Bills.

Rinehart is like all young Redskins in that he's excited to see what it's like to have a home game, at FedExField.

"All the work we put in goes to the games," he said. "It's a chance to go out and show that I can play and I deserve to be on the team."

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