Geron Christian Sr. was pushed into an extensive role this offseason despite being selected by the Washington Redskins in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
With Washington needing depth on the offensive line with the likes of Trent Williams, Morgan Moses and Ty Nsekhe still rehabbing from injuries suffered last years, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Bill Callahan threw the former Louisville offensive lineman in with the veterans immediately, mostly as the first-team left tackle.
"It's been a new world for him," Callahan said. "The reps that he's taking are quality reps with first stringers and they have Shawn Lauvao out there and Chase [Rouiller] communicating. Kind of a spot with all those calls, it was a good thing. All the technique stuff that he went through, he really benefited a great deal from all of that."
Signing his rookie contract with the Redskins earlier this month, Christian can now turn his attention from trying to make the team to zeroing in on Callahan's attention to details. Having 11 years of working directly with professional offensive linemen, the former Oakland Raiders head coach's resume with the Redskins' offensive front has turned them into one of the best in the league.
With Callahan already developing Brandon Scherff into a two-time Pro Bowler, Christian is soaking up as much information from him as he can that will be useful in protecting quarterback Alex Smith if his number is called this year.
"He's a really good coach, a lot of different techniques that I haven't used before, but just watching film he shows you how to work and you can see it in the players he has," Christian said.
Callahan noticed immediately that Christian's strength was in the pass protection, something that allowed Lamar Jackson to have a Heisman Trophy year in 2016 while at Louisville. The Redskins' fourth-year offensive line coach has also seen that the Ocala, Fla., native can be versatile in playing multiple positions, an aspect that is critical for players wanting to be a vital part in the system.
After tackles got hit with the injury bug last season, Callahan and head coach Jay Gruden agreed that Christian was a piece the Redskins could utilize in case the team needs to tap into its depth again.
"We will keep him at the swing tackle," Gruden said in April. "You know, what we went through at tackle last year was catastrophic with all the injuries and still a lot of these guys are recovering from their injuries. Trent [Williams] is recovering still, Morgan [Moses] is still recovering, Ty [Nsekhe] is still recovering, we have TJ [Clemmings] still recovering. So we need depth at tackle.
"He's a great, young tackle. He's one of the best pass blocking tackles in this draft in my opinion. He plays left and right side and will provide ample depth for that position, a position that you can never have too many of."
What has impressed Callahan the most is Christian's ability to be placed with veteran guards and tackles, holding his own against superior competition. In Callahan's eyes, that tireless work ethic in practice has allowed Christian to grow as a player and thinks he will be one to watch in the group to see where he can be placed in his rotation.
"He's gotten thrown into the fire and he's handled it really well," Callahan said. "It's a learning curve right now for a rookie, so he's got to make that progress in the next couple of weeks in the summer and carry it over into training camp. Hopefully we've got something there."