Ryan Boschetti's rookie season was filled with ups and downs. It reached a high point when, more than three months after the undrafted defensive lineman was waived by the Redskins, he earned his first NFL start in Washington's 17-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField in Week 14.
A week earlier, Boschetti had impressed the coaches with solid play as a reserve, recording four tackles against the Pittsburgh Steelers in his NFL debut.
After spending the first 10 games of the season on the practice squad, the 6-4, 295-pounder started against the NFC champs after defensive end Phillip Daniels' season ended prematurely due to a dislocated wrist.
"One of the goals I set for myself this season was just to get a chance to play," Boschetti said. "Watching games from home when I was on the practice squad, obviously it's a better feeling to be on the field with the guys you practice hard with all week."
Entering the offseason, Boschetti hopes to continue to develop his game and compete for more playing time next season.
Last year was a learning experience for Boschetti in more ways than one. He was not selected in the 2004 draft and the Redskins signed him a few days after the draft on April 29.
Boschetti was cut at the end of preseason. He joined the Redskins' practice squad in early September and he honed his skills and familiarized himself with the defensive scheme.
Boschetti is a native of Belmont, Calif., and was a defensive lineman at UCLA from 2002-03. As a senior, he played in all 13 games and recorded 43 tackles, 2.5 sacks, eight tackles for a loss and a blocked kick.
Being relegated to the practice squad most of the season was a challenge that motivated Boschetti to improve his play.
"It's tough being on the practice squad, and I think a lot of the other guys would say the same thing," he said. "We'd always been playing in college and high school--a lot of us were stars where we were. We were in there and made plays."
Over time, Boschetti said he raised the quality of his play thanks to the coaching of Greg Blache, the Redskins' defensive coordinator-defensive line coach. Under Blache's guidance, Boschetti, like several other Redskins defenders this season, was ready to answer the call when Daniels went down.
"Coach Blache did a great job teaching me not only to be a good football player, but to be a good professional as far as film work and all the things that go into the game," Boschetti said. "He did a great job of teaching me to stay square, really put pressure on the offense and understand what everybody else is doing on defense. People think that football players only show up on Sundays, but it starts with all of the preparation."