A typical day at training camp for rookie center Chase Roullier begins at 7 a.m. He rises and readies himself for a day of practice. The Redskins have a walkthrough, then an afternoon session that can go as long as three hours. After all that, Roullier will grab a bite and then head to meetings. He’ll finish around 10 p.m., then go get some sleep and do it all over again.
The only real chance for a break (or a nap) comes between the walkthrough and practice. Roullier and the Redskins’ other young offensive linemen, though, get less of a breather than most. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan isn’t big on rest and, for about half an hour after most walkthroughs, runs several of his charges through additional drills.
“He’s kind of a legend when it comes to offensive line in the NFL so any little extra work you can do with him, it’s going to help you so much so it’s great that he’s willing to even stay out there with us,” Roullier said.
It’s a lot of work, but Roullier is used to long hours learning about power and leverage. Adjusting to the NFL is hard, Roullier said, but so was playing college football at Wyoming while completing a mechanical engineering degree.
“Not having to do any of that and just do football has been quite a bit of a change for me,” Roullier said. “I’m able to devote all of my attention to one thing now rather than having to do 50-50 and that’s a pretty big change for me, something that I think has helped me to progress faster than when I was in college.”
Roullier played guard until his last year at Wyoming, so the first time he made the transition was for his senior season. During that time, Roullier was also working on his senior design project: transforming a gas-powered dune buggy into one that could be powered by electricity.
“Picture a GoKart but with bigger wheels and a higher frame,” Roullier instructed.
The hardest part of learning to play center is getting used to making all the line calls. Roullier will eventually get cross-trained at guard with the Redskins but, for now, it’s one thing at a time.
“You’re having to go up there and make two, three calls every single play. So that’s something that I’m adjusting to and something that I’m starting to get more comfortable with,” Roullier said.
There’s no secret key to making those adjustments. They’ll only come with time and lots of reps.
Last Tuesday, the Roullier got to work with the first team during practice because starting center Spencer Long was out sick. The rookie looked comfortable and, after a first snap to Cousins looked a little high, he settled in nicely and made no obvious mistakes throughout the day.
“He’s done a great job, he really has,” Jay Gruden said. “For a rookie to come in here and handle all the things he has to handle, it’s been very impressive. Chase has got a ways to go obviously but he’s on the right track.
“He’s a true center. He might have to play a little bit of guard from time to time. If he’s going to dress on game day, he’s going to have to back up guard and center. So, we’ll get him going, but the starting point is to really find a good center.”
The other backup center option is Ronald Patrick but seeing Roullier almost exclusively fill in for Long confirmed that he’s the preferred backup.
Roullier said that he wants to go back to engineering once his playing days are done, as long as he can do so in a way that’s “business-oriented” in some way as well. For now, though, he’s happy to devote himself to football and have Callahan be the one taking him to school. If you could get a PhD in offensive line, Callahan would have one.
“Every coach you go to is going to have their little differences and technique,” Roullier said. “Coach Cal obviously has so much experience that he has some very good ones out there, and he’s always talking about various seminars that he goes to for offensive line. I’m guessing most of the time he’s teaching those things but I’m sure he picks up little things here and there that he’s able to then try out with us and it helps us in our game.”
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