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Rinehart Believes He's Ready

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Chad Rinehart is feeling the pressure.

And it is pressure he is putting on himself.

Rinehart, the Redskins' third-round draft pick in 2008, says his "number one goal" this year is to earn playing time along the offensive line.

Rinehart did not play in any regular season games as a rookie. In fact, he was deactivated for 13-of-16 games.

"I've been putting pressure on myself to get out there and help this team," Rinehart said. "I'm just concentrating on doing what I have to do and staying consistent on every play."

During off-season work, Rinehart saw action at right guard in place of veteran Randy Thomas, who was rehabbing neck and knee injuries.

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Rinehart can also play left and right tackle, so versatility is a strong suit for the 6-5, 311-pound lineman.

"I feel if I'm competing for a spot, then we're improving everywhere on the line," Rinehart said.

Head coach Jim Zorn praised Rinehart during June OTAs, saying that he noticed his movement was better and that he had cut down mental errors.

Since linemen practice without pads during the offseason, the "tell-tale" on Rinehart's progression will be preseason, Zorn said.

Thomas is slated to start at right guard in 2009, but if he is slow to return from his injuries--he had arthroscopic knee surgery in May and sat out OTA work in June--then Rinehart could be in line for a starting job.

Rinehart came to the Redskins from Northern Iowa, a Division I-FCS school, so his adjustment to the NFL was tougher than most.

After starting at left tackle for three years, he transitioned to playing mostly right tackle and guard as a rookie.

After some initial success in training camp, Rinehart fell back into some "bad habits" in terms of technique.

He lost confidence and did not practice with the intensity that coaches want from their linemen.

It was a sign that Rinehart wasn't ready for playing time.

Plus, it took a while for Rinehart to get comfortable playing guard.

"The [defensive tackles] you're going against are bigger and you don't have much space to work inside," he said. "Playing tackle, you have more space to work with and you're going against an athletic guy."

Toward the end of last season, offensive line coach Joe Bugel said he noticed Rinehart started "perking up" as he grew more acclimated to the NFL.

"The light bulb finally went on," Bugel said. "He started realizing what the NFL is all about. He was coming from Northern Iowa and college kids sometimes hit the wall. With preseason, we play about 20 games, and that's twice what they played in college.

"Now he knows exactly what he needs to do to get ready for the season. I'm expecting a lot from him and he is expecting a lot from himself."

Added Rinehart: "Now I'm more comfortable with the system and I'm able to execute a little quicker with the plays. I'm more confident with my sets and I can just go out and execute the plays."

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