While the rest of the Redskins' defensive line has years of experience, Frank Kearse is the youngest of the group with the least game action. He uses his standing to grow behind the veterans.
Sidelined with a shoulder injury for parts of training camp and even the preseason – missing games against the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens – defensive end Frank Kearse was in a difficult spot.
A countdown of the Top 10 images of Redskins defensive lineman Frank Kearse during the 2014 season.
The fourth-year Alabama A&M product had to watch as his teammates made their case for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
"As a player I was born to compete and that's the only thing I care about," Kearse told Redskins.com. "As long as I can go out every day to compete and give my best. Everybody wants to win, but wins and losses come a dime a dozen. But did you get better today? That's what I try to do every day is get better."
He was, however, able to play a substantial amount Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars, showing no repercussions of being out for a few weeks.
Before getting back to game action, though, Kearse took time during his rehab to better understand the schematics of the defense, ensuring that'd he'd be better prepared mentally for the season.
"You know, injuries occur in this game and I will say that it was just a part of the game," Kearse said. "The biggest thing is that I learned a lot mentally. Not being able to be on the field meant that I had twice as much time in the classroom learning, watching other guys do it, seeing guys execute, seeing what you can and can't do inside this defense. I think I showcased my talents pretty well [Thursday]."
At 26 years old, Kearse is the youngest player on the Redskins' defensive line. With room to grow this year and beyond, he said he's fortunate to have so many veterans he can rely on.
"Coach [Robb] Akey, coach Joe Kim, [Jason] Hatcher, Pot Roast, [Ricky] Jean-Francois, Chris Baker; just being the leaders that they are and showing me that I'm taking a false step every time I get to this side and to work on that, work on this, work on my hand placement, make sure you flip your hips, and make sure you do this or that," Kearse said. "It might sound like a broken record to somebody who doesn't know football, but it means something to me."
Defensive end Ricky Jean Francois, who is entering his seventh season in the NFL, said Kearse is never shy to approach them.
"We stayed on him every day as if he was in practice, which is to say a lot out of him," Jean Francois said of Kearse while he was sidelined. "He still asked questions like crazy. Like you got that one little brother who is curious about everything, he's that guy. He want to know how to get his hands better, how to get his feet better, what he's seeing in the backfield, just so many different things. And to see a guy like that, even though he hurt, most guys be lackadaisical, be halving on their rehab. The man goes three times harder."
Luckily for Kearse, he put enough on film last season to impress the coaches and secure himself a roster spot despite his time away. He also showed potential during the offseason before the injuries.
Last season, the 6-foot-5, 310 pounder appeared in 15 games, recording 15 tackles along with three sacks.
As he enters Year 2 with the Redskins, Kearse understands that if his work ethic drops and concentration on the task at hand wanes, he may very well be looking for something new to do.
"I think that every day I come to work I learn something new," he said. "And a wise old vet once told me that the day you stop learning is the day they show you the exit."