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Rabach Is New Center of Attention

As any offensive lineman will tell you, it's a big change when you switch teams.

Casey Rabach, late of the Baltimore Ravens and now a first-year Redskin, is trying to get to that point where he feels continuity with his new teammates.

Rabach explained the process this way, at the close of the Redskins mini-camp on June 19: "Those guys have to learn to trust me, and vice versa. We're getting there. We've made a lot of progress. We'll be there when the bell rings on opening day."

The 6-4, 301-pound Rabach, says head coach Joe Gibbs, "fits in perfectly for us. He's a talented addition."

A fifth-year NFL player out of Wisconsin, Rabach is expected to step in as the starter for veteran Cory Raymer, who is still highly-regarded among Redskins coaches.

That means one Wisconsin center for another. Consider that the Cowboys' starter at center, Al Johnson, is also a former Badger, and maybe you can spot a trend.

Says Joe Bugel: "Casey comes out of an outstanding program for offensive linemen, and centers in particular, at Wisconsin. Casey did a great job the past couple of years at Baltimore, at center or guard, whatever they needed him to play.

"He and Raymer set the whole thing up on the offensive line. They're both really smart, and they have an outstanding work ethic. Those are the type of guys you're happy to call Redskins. You just want them on your team.

"Both of those guys can give you a lot at the center position. Casey's a lot younger and we expect that he'll be our starter."

The thing that has impressed Rabach the most in the early going? It's the quarterback.

"The thing about Patrick Ramsey is that he's such a confident player," Rabach says. "Obviously, I've only been around him for a few months. But what I see in Patrick is confidence.

"He has the attitude that he'll step up and be a leader for this team. That's what you need out of that position."

Rabach started 15 games at center and one at left guard for Baltimore a year ago. He helped pave the way for Jamal Lewis's third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season and helped the Ravens' offense compile more than 2,000 rushing yards on the season.

The Redskins snapped him up this spring on the first day of free agency, which means that he'll be blocking for a different type of running back in 2005.

"Like all the great backs, Clinton [Portis] has outstanding vision," Rabach says. "And like all those Miami guys, he's extremely confident. No matter what the situation, you'll never see him get down on himself or the team.

"As far as making the change from Baltimore to the Redskins, it doesn't really effect my technique, switching from blocking for Jamal Lewis to blocking for Clinton. I'll be asked to do pretty much the same thing I did in Baltimore. We ran a power game for Jamal Lewis, and he's a great cutback runner. Here, with Clinton, he's more of a slasher, with more speed and with more of an ability to make tacklers miss."

Rabach and his new teammates will visit Baltimore for a scrimmage Aug. 6 and for a pre-season game Sept. 1. He still has a lot of friends in the Baltimore organization, of course, but that aspect of his NFL career is in the past tense.

"Coming here, to play for the Redskins, I get to play for two coaching legends, in Joe Gibbs and Joe Bugel," says Rabach. "I'm aware of that, and I really believe it. You couldn't ask for much more, with those coaches and all the tradition around the Redskins and the Hogs. Any offensive lineman should want to come here to play ball."

Adds Rabach: "Bugel's incredible. He works you so hard, because he cares about his players and the Redskins so much. We'll have a good season here. I know it. I'm certain of it. This is going to be fun."

Gibbs and Bugel like Rabach's versatility, which dates back to his college days at Wisconsin. He garnered All-Big 10 Conference first-team honors at two different positions: center in 1999 and guard in 2000.

He continued to play both positions after being drafted by the Ravens in the third round (92nd overall) in 2001.

"Casey's only been in the league four years and he did a heck of a job at left guard for the Ravens and he did a heck of a job at center," Bugel said. "When you get someone available like that, you better jump on him. He's going to be a good offensive lineman for us."

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