- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

Having won two Super Bowl rings and played 11 NFL seasons, Christian Fauria could have walked away from football. The New England Patriots, his team the previous four years, had made it clear that younger Daniel Graham and Ben Watson were their tight ends going forward. Fauria didn’t want to uproot his family from Massachusetts, where his two older children had started school.

“It was so easy in New England,” the Washington Redskins lineman said. “My family loves it there. I know the offense like the back of my hand. I had a good relationship with the quarterback [Tom Brady]. I had a lot of friends there. But my playing time was dwindling. Until the other guys got hurt last year, I was taking as many scout team reps as I could just so I could stay in shape.”

Fauria, who turns 35 in September, briefly pondered retirement. But only briefly.

“I’m still hungry,” he said. “I still think I can make a difference. I wasn’t really looking to go somewhere else, but when the Redskins called me on the first day of free agency, I knew they were serious. I was like, ‘Well, let me go check it out.’”

Less than 48 hours later, Fauria had signed a two-year, $2million contract with the Redskins, for whom he’s slated to replace the underwhelming Robert Royal, now with Buffalo, as the top blocking tight end.

“We signed Christian for his experience,” tight ends coach Rennie Simmons said. “Christian was a very dominant blocker when he came out of Colorado [in 1995], and he still does a very consistent job. He’s a little more physical than Robert.”

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Fauria is just starting to show the Redskins how physical he can be. He missed the first two weeks of May’s organized team activities after undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee, a long-standing condition that worsened when he began offseason workouts at Redskin Park on March27.

Not that Fauria, who picked up first downs on 16 of his 24 catches over last two seasons, is concerned about his aging body.

“I can’t run the way I did when I was 24, but I’ve missed one game the last nine years,” Fauria said. “There’s no way that I shouldn’t be as good as I was the past four years in New England. Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world, but he’s always working on his swing because he believes it can get better. That’s how I feel. This can’t be as good as it gets. I like to think that my best years are in front of me.”

Receiver David Patten is a believer in Fauria, whose locker in New England neighbored his from 2002 to 2004.

“Christian is a true professional,” Patten said. “He’s a hard worker who just goes out there and does his business. Christian isn’t known for doing much after the catch, but you get the ball in his vicinity and you can count that as a grab. He’s a physical presence holding down the end. He blocks like a lineman.”

With starter Chris Cooley already a top target and fullback Mike Sellers having been a touchdown machine last year, it’s unlikely Fauria will match his average of 29 catches from 1998 to 2003 with Seattle and New England. That’s fine with him as long as the Redskins win the way the Patriots did during his tenure.

“I don’t think things were stale in New England, but coming to a new team definitely recharges your batteries,” Fauria said. “Signing with the Redskins was definitely a good decision. I told my wife that coming to the nation’s capital is like a mini-adventure. I don’t really care if people have doubts about me now. I just don’t want there to be any doubts at the end of the season. The last impression is the most important one.”

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