The Redskins organization took a huge step towards bringing something special back to the fans, "The Hogs". The Redskins, on March 1st, 2003, signed free agent guard Dave Fiore to a four-year deal. In signing Fiore, they began assembling a "Hog-esque" offensive line, something that has been lacking in Washington for years. Fiore, a three-year starter with the San Francisco 49ers, has played all five offensive line positions. Fiore was a salary cap casualty with the 49ers, something that seems to happen every year with them, as they again seem to have let a high caliber player walk away. The 28-year old New Jersey native and Hofstra grad has started 53 of 59 games in his NFL career and prior to last season he had missed a total of one game over three seasons.
Described as steady and versatile, Dave Fiore is considered to be one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL. The Sporting News Scouting Report gives him a 7.6 rating out of a possible 10. That rating corresponds with a player who is close to being an elite player and will usually rank among the top 20 in the league at their position. Fiore is very athletic and is a tenacious blocker on both the run and pass. He is also very strong. In fact, while with the 49ers, he set a team record by bench pressing 225 pounds 42 times. Another intangible that Fiore brings to the team and more importantly helps fuel the talk of a new generation of "The Hogs", is what he did in 2001 while playing Atlanta. All he did was start and play the entire game at right guard despite suffering a fourth degree shoulder separation in the first quarter. Fiore's versatility comes from the fact that he has played each of the five offensive line positions effectively.
Dave Fiore's strongest position is at the left guard. He said at the press conference that announced his signing with the Redskins that it was a promise made by the coaching staff that ultimately led him to sign with the team. That promise was that he would be able to play one position and not be forced to continue the revolving position game that he faced in San Francisco. That position would be the left guard. Regarding the chance to play one position, Fiore was quoted as saying "That was one of the things that drove me here. I thought I had the chance to play one position and stay with it." Another factor also was being able to line up beside one of the NFL's premier offensive tackles, Chris Samuels. Fiore was also quoted as saying "The Redskins welcomed me and were eager to have me here. I like the aggressiveness here, I like the willingness to win."
While enjoying the thankless job of the interior line, Fiore has remained relatively healthy and like many of his linemen brethren his main problems have come from his knees. His knees have caused him problems throughout his career. He has had at least two reconstructive knee surgeries on each leg. The most recent was following the Redskins-49ers game last September when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Fiore has not played since suffering the injury against the Redskins but has been rehabbing the knee and is anxious for the offseason workouts to begin.
The guard position that Fiore was signed to fill has been long ignored by the Redskins in both the draft and free agency. In the last three seasons, the Redskins have started 14 different guards. So much for the continuity necessary for an offensive line to prosper. The signing of Fiore as well as free agent guard Randy Thomas (both players were considered the two best free agent guards available), not to mention the book end tackles, Samuels and Jon Jansen have given the Redskins one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. The excitement of having this offensive line has the fans as well as the entire organization eagerly awaiting the opening of training camp but even more to the opening game against the New York Jets. One individual who is smiling about the reality of adding a player with the magnitude of Fiore is Offensive Line Coach Kim Helton. Helton was so excited in fact that he smoked a cigar at the press conference to announce Fiore's signing. Helton was quoted as saying, "I've never smoked anything in my life, but today I took a couple puffs of a cigar. I am really excited."
Fiore's addition to the offensive line is a huge step in the direction that all Redskin fans want to see made and that is toward the playoffs. He is known as a good run blocker and a highly aggressive pass protector which means that given the Spurrier offense, he should be a integral part of the revamped "Hogs". With Fiore teaming up with All Pro Tackle Chris Samuels, the right side of the offensive line should make second year signal caller, Patrick Ramsey, comfortable. That would be a luxury that Redskin quarterbacks haven't enjoyed for several years.