Redskins head coach Jay Gruden can relate to his rookies because he's been in their shoes.
In fact, Gruden's had to wear quite a few pairs of shoes, figuratively of course, during his football career.
"I have had to experience all levels," Gruden said. "As a player, I have experienced being a backup, I have experienced being cut, experienced being hurt, being a starter, being called a star in the Arena [Football] League. As a coach, I have been a graduate assistant, I have been an offensive assistant, been a coordinator, [and] I have been a head coach. So I have gotten to see all levels of playing and coaching and I understand how to try and cater to each level. Make sure everybody feels like they're important. Everybody has to be treated equally and that's what I try and do."
Obviously, it's important for Gruden to have a solid working relationship with his rookies. If they all mesh and they're all on one accord, then the Redskins have a greater chance for success this season.
It's also important that everyone gets a feel for each other outside of Redskins Park.
"You have to get to know them personally," Gruden said. "We had them all come over to my house the other day, we a little barbeque and they all came over. I like to try and get into their heads, see what makes them tick, get to know their background a little bit, get to know them as people first, then you get them on the football field and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are and figure out the best way to motivate them and coach them."
Gruden has quite a balancing act on his hands. Of the 89 men on Washington's roster, 23 of them are rookies. That's 23 different personalities that Gruden has to work with, and hopefully turn into productive football players.
The only way Gruden can do that is by working with each man individually.
"Obviously they're all Redskins now, but each one of them gets motivated differently," Gruden said. "Some of them need to be yelled at and cussed at. Some of them, if you yell and cuss at them, they go right in the tank and you get nothing out if them. So you have to get to know what motivates them, how to push their buttons, and get the best out of them and mold them in that regard."
Gruden is a big proponent of working with the talent he already has, instead of seeking outside help. If Gruden can continue to work with them, then he believes the team will be much better off in the long run when the regular season starts.
"The good thing is we've had three good classes and you can see the people developing within our system," Gruden said. "Everybody is developing and your character is being developed in house, you aren't having to bring a bunch of new guys in and having characters with different backgrounds. You're building their character, you're building the Redskins and how you want to train the players [to] practice, eat, sleep, all that stuff. It's been good so far."