Perhaps no other Redskins player is looking forward to the start of OTAs than Manuel White, Jr.
White suffered a fractured fibula in the Redskins' preseason finale on Sept. 1, a crushing blow because it cost him his rookie campaign. One day later, he was placed on injured reserve.
When Organized Team Activities (OTAs) start on Tuesday, May 16, White will make his return to the Redskins Park practice fields for the first time since the injury. He says the injury is 100 percent and that he's fully healthy.
"Just going out there and practicing again--there's nothing like just being out there with your teammates, sweating and just going through everything that they've been going through," White said. "Last year was frustrating just watching them go through the ups and downs. Even in the bad times, I wanted to be there."
After the injury, White had surgery to repair his leg and was on crutches for months. During the 2005 regular season, he would show up at Redskins Park regularly for rehabilitation work.
"I was on crutches so long, I was wondering when I'd be able to walk again," he said. "I was waiting for the next time I could put on another shoe."
White started jogging regularly in early February so that he could participate fully in voluntary off-season workouts. He has participated in everything from weight training to running various drills.
White, a 6-2, 245-pounder out of UCLA, was the Redskins' fourth-round draft choice (120th overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft.
He was viewed as a legitimate red zone threat coming out of college. At UCLA, as a fullback, he finished his career with 1,814 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns. He also recorded 52 receptions for 518 yards and three touchdowns.
White also had a prolific high school career, rushing for 6,746 yards and a remarkable 84 touchdowns in four years.
Entering the NFL with the Redskins last season, White had to transition from fullback to the H-back, sort of a hybrid tight end/fullback position that head coach Joe Gibbs has employed for years.
With Al Saunders taking over the reins of the Redskins' offense this year, White is re-learning the fullback position again.
"I like the new offense so far," he said. "Last year, I struggled a little bit learning to play a new position. There's still some carryover from the offense last year to the offense this year, but I feel like I'm grasping it all a lot better.
"I like the fact that we're all starting out on even ground--we're all learning the new offense at the same time. I'm not at a disadvantage or trying to catch up."
What does he like about playing fullback?
"I like the versatility of it," he said. "Obviously you block first, but you're also a receiver and you get the occasional carry. Fullback was the position I played at college. So I'll be able to go out there and play more on my instincts, instead of running around and thinking about what I have to do."
Mike Sellers will likely get the first opportunity to start at fullback in Saunders' offense. That means White may have to compete for a backup job with Nehemiah Broughton, the Redskins' seventh-round draft pick in 2005.
White may also need to establish himself on special teams in order to make the team coming out of training camp.
That's all in the future, though. For now, White is just happy to be back on the field, practicing with his teammates again.
"The offseason is going great," White said. "For the past 12 years of my life, August to December has always meant football. It was frustrating to be away from it, especially in my rookie year. So this year, I really want to go out there, show what I can do, and contribute to the team."