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Redskins Banking On Kendall

When the Redskins obtained offensive guard Pete Kendall in a trade with the New York Jets last August, they obtained a player who initially said his job was just to "fit in."

Almost immediately, Kendall was asked to do more.

In fact, he slipped right in to the starting left guard position.

In the early going, Kendall has been a steady performer--although it appears he played a part in the Redskins' struggles in the final seconds of last Sunday's 24-17 loss to the New York Giants.

The Redskins had a chance to score a game-tying touchdown twice from the Giants' 1-yard line. On the second try, a fourth-down play, the Giants were able to get a push to the Redskins' left side, and Ladell Betts was tripped up before he could reach the end zone.

That sequence aside, Kendall has provided veteran experience for a line that lost Derrick Dockery to free agency last offseason and has suffered several injuries in the early going.

"I've been in this type of offense before, so I'm familiar with a lot of the terminology," Kendall said. "It's a veteran group on the line, so I feel like my communication--as far as being able to ask questions and just talk football--I think they get it.

"It's always nice when someone understands your question so they can give you an answer."

Added head coach Joe Gibbs: "It didn't take him long to jump in there. He's getting chemistry going with those guys. It seems to me like he fit right in. He takes all the work in practice, seems to fit in with the guys and everything.

"The fact that he's a vet, he's been around and is real smart--that certainly helps."

Losing Dockery to the Buffalo Bills during the offseason meant that the Redskins lost a player who had developed into an important part of the offense last year.

The cohesiveness of the offensive line was key as the Redskins finished with the fourth-best ground game in the NFL last and allowed just 19 sacks.

In replacing Dockery, the Redskins tried several options, including moving veteran offensive tackle Todd Wade to the position.

In the end, the Redskins decided to trade a draft pick to the Jets for Kendall, a 12-year NFL veteran who had made 159 regular-season starts heading into the season.

Kendall's NFL career has featured stints with the Seahawks, Cardinals and Jets, at both left guard and center.

"I knew [the Redskins' offensive linemen] by reputation and seeing them on film through the years," Kendall said. "They're all very good football players. "I'm going to have to be flexible and adaptable, so the other four guys can do what they do well."

Kendall could not have foreseen that the Redskins' right side of the offensive line would be beset with injuries.

Jon Jansen suffered a season-ending ankle injury and Randy Thomas has a triceps injury that could sideline him until December.

Wade is the new right tackle, and Jason Fabini, who Kendall played with in New York, is lining up at right guard.

Meantime, Kendall is growing more accustomed to the skills and blocking style of left tackle Chris Samuels and center Casey Rabach.

A native of Quincy, Mass., Kendall attended Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree, Mass. He was a four-year starter at Boston College and a two-time All-Big East pick.

Kendall was selected in the 1996 NFL Draft by the Seahawks before moving on to the Cardinals and Jets. He was embroiled in a contract controversy during his time in New York, so coming to the Redskins represents a fresh start in his career.

The combination of Pro Bowler Samuels and the veteran Kendall at left guard carries with it loads of potential, assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel believes.

Said Bugel: "Pete has been sitting in classroom next to Chris, and they're discussing things a great deal. It would be different if he wasn't a real veteran guy, but he's a 14-year vet and he's super smart. You just have to tell him one time and he understands.

"So for Pete, it's just a matter of getting caught up on our terminology, and how Chris will communicate with him and how he'll communicate with Chris.

"That's the reason we traded for him. We thought he could fit in with the guys we have here already. He's a very intelligent player, so he'll blend in really well."

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