- The Washington Times - Monday, August 31, 2009

Casey Rabach has been an island of stability on a line in tumult.

Since coming to Washington from Baltimore in 2005, the center has missed just one game, and his streak of 26 consecutive starts is the longest on the Redskins’ line. However, Rabach turns 32 next month and his contract is expiring. Hence, it’s possible this could be his last season with the Redskins.

“Coming here has really worked out well,” Rabach said. “It was a great fit from Day One. [Predecessor Cory Raymer] was still here, and he had been here a long time, but the guys that were on this offensive line and in this locker room accepted me right away.”

That began with right tackle Jon Jansen, soon Rabach’s best friend in football. The Redskins cut Jansen in May after 10 seasons, but the buddies and their families spent July 4 together at Jansen’s place across Lake Michigan from Rabach’s new home in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

Rabach misses Jansen, but he’s focused on making the proper line calls at center.

“I’m definitely a better player now than when I got here because of the things I’ve learned from [line coach Joe Bugel], from being in three different offenses in the five years I’ve been here,” Rabach said. “It’s the last season of my contract, but I want to play until they kick me out. I’m having way too much fun.”

Not that it’s usually easy to tell that Rabach has fun on the field.

“[You ask Casey], ‘How you doing?’ and [he says], ‘Arghh!’ ” Zorn said. “He’s always growling at something. He’s not very friendly out there. He’s always got a little scowl and a growl, ‘Arrgh! Huddle up!’ He acts like he’s mad all the time. But he gets a good response from his guys. Those players pull together because of Casey.”

Guard Randy Thomas praised the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Rabach’s smarts and his ability to handle defensive linemen one-on-one. Left tackle Chris Samuels, a six-time Pro Bowl pick who played with four centers during his first four seasons, is happy to be heading into a fifth year with Rabach.

“Casey’s definitely been a rock in there, a guy that we depend on,” Samuels said. “He’s solid. He’s a dirtbag. He might not be the biggest guy, but he’s tough, a gritty guy.”

Indeed, Rabach lives for the battles that take place in piles or the interior of the line. He’s not one for high-powered passing games. Give him the throwback duels in the dirt.

As Samuels said, it figures that Rabach went to Wisconsin because he’s a scrappy, ornery badger sort of a player.

“I love the violence of football,” Rabach said. “The trick-‘em type stuff, that’s not me. Trying to earhole the guy across from me, that’s how I have fun playing football.”

It’s far from all fun and games, however. While more the cerebral leader of the line than its emotional spark plug, Rabach, deadpan off the field, is deadly serious on it.

“If we’re out there flapping around during practice, I’ll definitely say something because I thoroughly believe that what you do on the practice field is going to show up on Sundays,” Rabach said. “But I don’t scream during games. I throw stuff.”

Through all of the hits, Rabach has stayed remarkably healthy, missing that one game with a groin injury in 2007. He even started 48 of 50 possible games at Wisconsin.

“I work real hard in the offseason to stay in shape to prepare for that long season of beating your body up,” Rabach said. “I never get out of shape. I’ve kinda got a body built for punishment. It seems like each year you talk to the older guys and they’re saying this hurts, that hurts. I have some aches and pains in the morning, but nothing too extreme like theirs. I feel great. Knock on wood, I haven’t had that major injury.”

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