THN will be profiling over a dozen players in the weeks leading up to the Washington Redskins 2005 Training Camp. Up next in the previews is offseason UFA pick-up, center Casey Rabach.
Number: 61 Position: C Height: 6'4" Weight: 305 School: Wisconsin Major: Agricultural Journalism Hometown: Sturgeon Bay, WI Birthday: 09/24/1977
How Acquired: Rabach was an unrestricted free agent and agreed to a five-year, $13.75 million contract just three hours after free agency opened. Many people considered him to be the top free agent center available.
Professional Career: Though he spent the first three seasons as a back-up, Rabach started all 16 games for the Baltimore Ravens in 2004. The Ravens spent a considerable amount of money on center Mike Flynn last year, but he broke his collarbone during training camp. Though Flynn would recover from the injury before year's end, he could not take back the job back that he had been paid so handsomely to do.
Rabach's performance made him a fairly marketable offseason free agent, but he chose to move just down the beltway to apply his trade in Washington D.C. rather than re-sign with Baltimore and compete for the guard spot or re-sign somewhere else.
Collegiate Career: Rabach is one of few collegiate players to have been named All-Big Ten Conference first-team at two different positions (2000 - center, 1999 - guard). He started 48 games for the Wisconsin Badgers and in his senior year won the Wayne Souza Award as the Wisconsin offensive player that contributes the best of his abilities on and off the field. He was also an Associated Press second-team All-American. Casey became the first center since Washington's own Cory Raymer to start in his freshman year at Wisconsin (Raymer was the first ever). Raymer told THN at the Redskins recent mini-camp that 'as a Wisonny boy, Rabach and he go way back.'
High School Career: Played center and defensive end at Sturgeon Bay High (Wisconsin). First team all state honors from the Associated Press and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and named Packerland Conference Player of the Year. He was also a three-time Honor Roll student.
Outlook: Rabach is a slight size upgrade at center over Raymer, as well as being five years his junior. He goes in to the 2005 season as the odds-on favorite to win the starting job at center over Raymer and Lennie Friedman. Coming from the power running game that the Ravens use, the physical transition for Casey should be minimal. But playing the pivot spot means garnering the trust of the linemen around you and that only comes with some game experience. Joe Bugel feels that Rabach is a very smart player, so he should have had plenty of time to learn the 'X's and O's', but the unit will count on Rabach being ready immediately so that they can work on gaining some cohesion.
Rabach himself is certainly excited to have made the move to the Washington Redskins, "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." ( Rabach Is New Center of Attention - Redskins.com)
What more can a Redskin offensive lineman say to prove that he's worthy of the love of Redskins fans?