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Rinehart Is Bouncing Back From Leg Injury

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Chad Rinehart had a long wait for playing time in the NFL.

Then, just when Rinehart felt he was starting to establish himself, he suffered a fractured fibula midway through the 2009 season and was placed on injured reserve.

It was a disappointing end to his season, certainly.

Time for a new beginning, though.

Rinehart, who switched to jersey No. 77 this year, is full-go at Redskins' OTA practices. He still feels some tenderness in his lower leg, where the injury occurred, but he is improving.

"It's definitely going well now," he said. "It was frustrating back in February and March when I didn't feel like things were progressing, but once I started running on it I've noticed a difference every day."

The 6-5, 310-pounder joined the Redskins as a third-round draft pick in 2008. He had a steep learning curve coming from Northern Iowa, a Division I-FCS school, and did not see any action as a rookie.

Last year, after veteran right guard Randy Thomas suffered a season-ending triceps injury in Week 3, Rinehart finally was inserted into the started lineup.

He saw his first NFL action in Week 3 at Detroit. He earned another start the following week but then was benched in favor of veteran Mike Williams.

As injuries mounted on the offensive line, Rinehart rejoined the starting lineup in Week 9 vs. Denver. His blocking helped the Redskins post a season-high 174 yards rushing.

The next week, at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex., Rinehart was carted off the field, his season over due to his fractured fibula.

"It would have been nice staying healthy last year, because I thought at the end of the season I was finally clicking and playing at the level I expected to play at," he said.

Entering his third NFL season, Rinehart continues to see action at guard in the Redskins' new offense.

Williams is once again working with the first team at right guard. That leaves Rinehart competing for a backup job with Will Montgomery, Edwin Williams and Paul Fanaika.

Competition is the name of the game under head coach Mike Shanahan, so don't discount Rinehart making a push at Williams.

Rinehart added that his transition to the new offense is "going well."

"It's a work in progress," he said. "It'll be a lot different when we put the pads on."

Along with learning the new offense, Rinehart has to refine footwork to better adjust to the new zone blocking scheme.

"Just seeing the plays as the coaches see them versus what we have in our mind when we go out on the field, we're working towards what their goal is," Rinehart said.

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