RICHMOND—Shawn Lauvao didn’t get off to the best of starts when he joined the Redskins in March. In fact, the new offensive lineman’s performance had the coaching staff concerned.
“In OTAs, we were a little bit worried,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “I’m not going to lie. He struggled a little bit."
"But," Gruden continued, "he’s probably been the most improved player on this team from OTAs until now.”
Since arriving in Washington, Lauvao, who had spent the previous four seasons in Cleveland, has been working as the Redskins’ starting left guard. Gruden made the 26-year-old a priority in free agency, hoping he would help stabilize a revamped O-line that had an uneven 2013 season.
Lauvao acknowledged having a tough time early in his transition from the Browns’ system to the Redskins’ scheme.
“It’s different, man,” said the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Arizona State product said. “That’s one thing people kind of forget. When you’ve been in one place for so long, it’s almost like you become a part of that place. And then when you’ve got to go, it’s almost like starting anew. Fortunately, there’s a good group of guys here, a lot of good people and a really good coaching staff.”
But it wasn’t just the new playbook, Lauvao also had to get comfortable with Robert Griffin III’s snap count and develop chemistry his with new teammates.
“The way they run the zone here, it's totally different from anywhere else,” Lauvao said. “It definitely took some time to get used. It was almost everything I had been taught, you could throw it out of a window. I had to get an idea for how guys play, the quarterback’s cadence. Like anything, it took some time.”
Gruden credited offensive line coach Chris Foerster with helping Lauvao get caught up.
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“Coach Foerster has done a really good job with him, getting him out of his stance on time,” Gruden said. “He was a little late early in OTAS, just not really timing the snap count up well. But now he’s getting up out of the snap count, getting out of his stance and getting up to the next level in the running game. And he’s doing a good job with the stunts in the passing game and the blitzes and blocking man-on.”
Gruden added: “He’s been a very good, solid pickup for us and we’re happy to have him.”
And although it’s really early—the Redskins open the preseason a week from today against the Patriots—Lauvao likes what he’s seen from the retooled line.
“I feel like we have a tremendous leader in Trent [Williams],” Lauvao said. “We have guys who have been around a while like Kory [Lichtensteiger], Chris [Chester] and Tyler [Polumbus]. It helps when you have all those veterans. It’s not a young group; these guys have played a lot of ball. Then you thrown me in the mix, I’m here to work and help get things done.”