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Chad Rinehart: From "Depressing" to "Swagger"

The spotlight has turned to Chad Rinehart a little bit earlier than we might have guessed this summer, with injuries on the offensive line forcing the second-year guy into first-team rotations at both guard and tackle. Joe Bugel said last week that he'd be comfortable with Rinehart as a starter, but after he was inactive for 13 of 16 games and never played a year ago, I was curious how Rinehart was feeling.

"It's definitely a little more fun," he said, comparing last year's camp to this one. "I have a little more swagger, I feel, and can kind of battle more. Last year I was kind of just a beaten dog, and it was just...I don't know, it was just depressing the way I was playing. Because I knew I could do a lot better, and was a lot more capable than what I was showing....

"It was just rough. I knew I could be better, but I wasn't showing it. And I knew the coaches were disappointed in me, so I just kind of felt like I was letting down the team and myself."

This was quite a change after being a superstar left tackle in I-AA, a level where Rinehart knew he was more talented than the linemen he was facing. Rinehart said the only time he had similarly struggled was during his freshman year at Northern Iowa, when he red-shirted. The 24-year old said he tried to learn from other veterans last year, but that his mentality didn't really improve until he stopped trying to imitate and stopped being intimidated.

"The only thing that kind of changed was once I started realizing that I just needed to play my football," he said. "I'm talented enough. I was kind of concentrating on being like other people, but once I started trying to play like I can and fit into Bugel's system, that's when I kind of felt changes."

Incidentally, after playing his senior year of high school at 290 pounds, he said he lost about 35 pounds of "bad weight," since he "wasn't every strong," and then rebuilt himself back up to about 290, although he was initially one of the Panthers' smaller linemen. This offsesason, he headed back to Cedar Falls to work out with his former teammates and strength coaches, concentrating on high reps of a high intensity. Northern Iowa, he said, is "a place where I feel like I can go and concentrate on lifting and be kind of away from everything," and his weight went from 308 to 315, with "more muscle mass."

"I'm just amazed that he's talking about lifting weights," said Mike Sellers, who overheard our conversation. "I want to hear this. I ain't gonna lie, he's changed a lot since last year. I mean, there was a butt burglar or something around here that stole his behind [last year]. It looks like he's been squatting, though, so he's evened out."

Butt burglar talk aside, other teammates have noticed a different mentality from Rinehart.

"Definitely," Chris Samuels said. "He's gained weight and I think it's good weight. He looks stronger, and he's scrapping a whole lot better out there. He's fighting. I mean, [Bugel] coaches hard, and coach rode him a pretty good bit. But coach saw something in him, he was only trying to bring it out, and I think this year, it's starting to come out."

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 10, 2009; 3:03 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Let me hear your war cry, Rhino!

Posted by: pgugino | August 10, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Bullsh*t, I still can't hear you.

Posted by: pgugino | August 10, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Butt burglar!

Posted by: kjhealey | August 10, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

This just in: Mike Sellers will be the star actor on a new season of "Oz"

Posted by: pgugino | August 10, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burgar, butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burglar, butt burglar..... and more butt burglar. Okay, I just had to get that out of my system.

Posted by: pgugino | August 10, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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