- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 6, 2005

Center Casey Rabach spent the past four seasons smacking around Baltimore Ravens defenders in practice. Today he gets to hit them again, but this time he’ll be in a Washington Redskins uniform.

“I look forward to any time you can actually lace it up against somebody else,” said Rabach, who left the Ravens for the Redskins and a five-year, $13.75 million contract on the first day of the free agent signing period in March. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the Ravens — I want to hit every one of them. I’m an equal opportunity hitter. It’s going to be fun.”

That feeling holds true for the guys in purple, too.

“A lot of the guys were friends of Casey,” Ravens defensive end Tony Weaver said. “I’m sure there’ll be a little awkward moment. We’ll share a smile. But once we put the pads on and have that first hit, it’s all business.”

That’s what Rabach’s switch in teams was all about, too.

“If the Ravens had matched the offer, it would have been a really tough decision,” said Rabach, who didn’t become a regular in Baltimore until 2004 after shuttling between center and both guard spots for two seasons following a rookie year on the sideline. “I couldn’t be happier with where I am. It’s a great fit for me.

“There are great guys in the locker room. I don’t think there’s a better coaching staff in the league. We have a lot of talent that’s undiscovered. I think we’re on the brink of doing something great. It might not be this year, but in the near future.”

Watch the linemen in practice or around Redskin Park and it seems as though Rabach has long been part of a unit with tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen and guards Derrick Dockery and Randy Thomas. Coach Joe Gibbs said Rabach, who sent fellow University of Wisconsin product Cory Raymer to the bench, fits in well.

And, Thomas said, “Casey’s not going to be one of those guys trying to get attention. He’s a team player.”

The 6-foot-4, 302-pound Rabach helped establish his place in the group by not missing a day of the offseason workout program.

“That’s when you build your chemistry,” offensive line coach Joe Bugel said. “If [your teammates] feel you can play, they put their arms around you. If they feel you can’t, they shun you. They know Casey can play. They know he can help us.”

So does Bugel. Without knocking the aging Raymer, who’s competing with holdover Lennie Friedman to back up Rabach, Bugel couldn’t say enough good things about his new center.

“Casey is a very, very stout pass protector,” Bugel said. “When he touches you, he stops you. He’s a 300-pounder, but he plays bigger than that. Casey has super quickness inside, and he’s a powerful guy. Casey understands football. He’s a very intelligent player.”

Intelligent enough not to let his first big contract change his style. Rabach is still a country boy from Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

“We all have similar backgrounds,” Rabach said of the linemen. “We all love the outdoors. It’s a close-knit group. We all started playing this game because it was fun. That’s one thing I never want to lose. Even though there’s a huge business side to it now, it’s still fun.

“I bring toughness, intelligence and an attitude that I’ll do anything for the team. I don’t care if you’re getting paid the minimum or what I’m getting paid, you play for the love of the game and for the competitive edge. I would never go out there and not compete to my fullest.”

Even against his old Baltimore buddies.

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