As a Washington Redskin, center Ben Nowland lacks the NFL experience of teammates like Cory Raymer, Lennie Friedman and Bill Ferrario. That's why Nowland was eager to play in NFL Europe this offseason--playing time is always important for any young player's development.
It was a positive experience in more ways than one for the former Auburn starter. His team, the Frankfurt Galaxy, earned a spot in the World Bowl. The Galaxy lost to the Berlin Thunder 30-24, but Nowland saw significant action at center in the game.
For the season, Nowland played in nine games for the Galaxy, seeing time at both guard and center. It's that versatility that Nowland hopes will benefit him as he tries to earn a roster spot at the Redskins' upcoming training camp.
"Playing in NFL Europe was a great experience," Nowland said. "I had an opportunity to play a little bit of guard as well as play a lot of center. It was great to get on the field and hopefully I showed I can play both positions."
Nowland was part of an offensive line unit that helped the Galaxy lead the league in rushing. He blocked for Skip Hicks--a former Redskin--who compiled 611 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on the season.
Nowland was regarded by many as one of the top 15 centers entering the 2003 NFL Draft. But he was not selected in the draft and signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent. San Francisco has Pro Bowl center Jeremy Newberry, so Nowland knew it was unlikely that he would be able to establish himself with the 49ers.
Despite seeing some time in preseason games, Nowland was released by the 49ers in August 2003. He signed with the Redskins' practice squad three months later and finished out the year in Washington.
At Auburn, Nowland started 33 games in a four-year career. He was a first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press after starting 11 games as a senior. He was named one of the top 12 seniors in the country by The Sporting News.