Walter Rasby departed Washington reluctantly following the 2002 season. He was coming off an injury-plagued year, with knee injuries sidelining him for several games. But Rasby's role in Steve Spurrier's offense that season diminished as the year progressed and his departure from the team did not come as a surprise.
The 10-year veteran's hard-nosed blocking skills fit in perfectly in Washington now that Joe Gibbs is back as head coach. Rasby re-signed with the Redskins on March 10.
"We have the H-back who is more of a pass receiver and then we have the tight end who is the really big blocker," Gibbs said. "Walter is more of a standard tight end and he's a real good veteran guy to have on your team."
For Gibbs, Rasby would seem to fit into the role held by Don Warren, one of the 70 Greatest Redskins who played tight end from 1979-92.
The 6-3, 252-pounder is part of a tight ends/H-backs unit that includes veteran Brian Kozlowski and young players Chris Cooley (the Redskins' rookie third-round draft pick), Robert Royal, Kevin Ware and Leonard Stephens (who is in NFL Europe). Fullback Mike Sellers may also play some H-back.
While Rasby is generally known as a bruising run blocker--he helped open gaping holes for Stephen Davis in 2001 when the Pro Bowl back rushed for a franchise-record 1,432 yards--he is also a reliable receiver when called upon.
For his career, Rasby has snagged 58 passes for 525 yards and five touchdowns. In his two seasons in Washington, he caught 18 passes for 206 yards and two TDs.
"I've been known mainly as a blocker throughout my career, so I love it when I'm part of the passing game," Rasby said.
In 2002, Rasby served as a mentor for Royal and Stephens. This year, Rasby rejoins one of his mentors in Don Breaux, who helped develop Rasby's skills when both were members of the Carolina Panthers from 1995-97. Breaux was the Panthers' tight ends coach from 1995-2001 and came out of retirement this year to serve as the Redskins' offensive coordinator.
It was in part Breaux's familiarity with Rasby that convinced Gibbs to lure the tight end back to Washington.
Said Rasby: "It's great to be back with the Redskins. Everybody is ready to turn this ship around and get it going in the right direction. Guys have been working hard from the very start."
During mini-camps and off-season workouts, Rasby has fit right in with the detail-oriented approach employed by Gibbs.
"He's definitely a great teacher," Rasby said. "He's very attuned to the details. When we go out to practice during mini-camp, we don't waste one minute."