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Lefotu Hopes to Elevate His Game

Kili Lefotu's first encounter with offensive line coaching guru Joe Bugel was at the Redskins' Rookie Camp in early May.

The veteran coach was his usual crusty self on the practice fields, barking out instructions and encouraging linemen to push themselves harder. Bugel scrutinized everything from footwork to positioning against blocking dummies.

Bugel made an immediate impression on Lefotu.

"[Coach Bugel] wants the best out of everybody both on and off the field," Lefotu said. "He expects perfection in everything, in how you practice and in your technique. I respect him and his experience. For me, it's just an honor to even be in the same room with him."

Lefotu, the first of two seventh-round selections last April, is among a group of young Redskins offensive linemen hoping to impress Bugel and other coaches in off-season workouts and OTAs.

The 6-5, 315-pounder played his college ball at Arizona and started 37 games in four seasons.

As the April 29-30 NFL Draft approached, Lefotu drew interest from several teams, including the Redskins. But conversations stopped about a week before the draft, so Lefotu prepared himself to enter the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent.

When the Redskins called late on April 30 to tell him they had drafted him in the seventh round, it was a "pleasant surprise," Lefotu said.

As for his NFL future, Lefotu may be in a good situation on the Redskins. Given the experience and durability of the five starters on the offensive line, Lefotu will probably not be counted on in his rookie campaign. In that regard, he can develop his skills under Bugel without pressure or expectations.

Lefotu will likely enter training camp competing for a backup job at several offensive line positions.

"As of right now, I'm trying to take it one day at a time and one play at a time," he said. "I'm just going to go all-out. The rest will sort itself out."

One of the reasons Lefotu drew interest from the Redskins? His versatility. He has experience playing guard, tackle and center. The Redskins went into the offseason looking to add young depth at all three positions.

In OTA practice sessions, Lefotu has mostly worked at right guard, watching and learning from veteran Randy Thomas, the starter at the position. Lefotu played mostly at right guard at Arizona.

"I'm trying to learn from the best, and from what I've seen so far, I think Randy is the best right guard in the league," Lefotu said. "It's always important to have someone to model yourself after."

Lefotu knows that, at this point of his NFL career, his learning curve is steep.

"The main thing I have to get used to is the speed of the game," he said. "There are guys who I faced in college who are about the same size here, but everyone here is definitely quicker and faster."

Along with adjusting to the speed of the game, Lefotu must be more aggressive in matchups.

"They teach me to just have the mentality that the guy I'm across from is not going to win," he said.

Lefotu, whose full name is Kiliona Lefotu, was born in Honolulu. He grew up in Riverside, Calif., and starred at Arlington High School in both football and basketball.

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