- The Washington Times
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Brandon Scherff caught himself. After the three-time Pro Bowl right guard started to repeat he wanted to be a “Redskin” for life, Scherff remembered Washington no longer uses that name. He had already slipped up earlier in his online press conference.

But Scherff’s point remained the same: He isn’t worried about his contract.

“If I do everything right, things will fall in place,” Scherff said Wednesday. “I told you I wanted to retire … as a player of the Washington Team the rest of my career.”

Not using the moniker “Redskins” may be an adjustment for Scherff, but the 28-year-old appears more than comfortable as he enters the 2020 season under the franchise tag. Washington and Scherff failed to reach a long-term extension by July 15, and now, Scherff is locked into a one-year, $15 million salary for this year.

Instead, Scherff has been busy adjusting elsewhere — to the name, his new offensive line coach and even the way he goes about trying to prevent injuries.

Coming off season-ending injuries to his shoulder and elbow, Scherff said he wants to do a better job of taking care of his body. Scherff hasn’t played a full 16-game slate since 2016 and has landed on injured reserve for the past two seasons. He played in 11 games last year and appeared in just eight in 2018.

Scherff believes his injury history is mostly the result of being “unlucky.” For his torn pectoral in 2018, Scherff said he landed on the ground wrong, resulting in a tear. He added his shoulder injury in 2019 was from having poor technique that put his arm in a “weird position.” His fault, he said.

As he prepares for his sixth season, Scherff said he’s chatted with Ryan Kerrigan, who carried an iron man streak for 139 straight games until it was snapped this past season, and looked at other examples to pick up new methods.

“When I was a rookie, I came in here at 7:30 (a.m.) for an 8 o’clock meeting,” Scherff said. “I ate breakfast and went right into the meetings. Now, I’m coming in here at 6 for a 9 o’clock workout. I’m just trying to take care of my body a little bit better.”

Washington needs Scherff to stay healthy. The left side of the offensive line is one of the team’s biggest question marks after losing Trent Williams, Donald Penn and Ereck Flowers in the offseason. It can’t afford instability along the right side, especially with Scherff being its best lineman.

According to Pro Football Focus, Washington quarterbacks were pressured 194 times last season. That accounts for hits, hurries and sacks. But of those 194, Scherff allowed only 10 pressures — the fewest of any Washington starting linemen. That also ranked within the top 10 league-wide among linemen who played at least 50% of the snaps, according to the website.

In February, coach Ron Rivera and vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith determined which players on Washington’s roster were part of the team’s core. They put Scherff in that group.

Despite doing so, Rivera had been hesitant to publicly committing to Scherff — or any player for that matter. Rivera told reporters that he needed to be around his players first before handing out contract extensions, seeing if they fit into the culture that he’s trying to build.

On Tuesday, Rivera said Scherff has been “great” — though the deadline for extending him this season has passed.

“He’s been as good as advertised,” Rivera said. “One of the things that we talk about is who these guys are and as we’ve gotten to know Brandon, as I’ve gotten to know him, I’ve been impressed so far. It’s one of those things that again, going into the offseason, who knows. We’ll see what happens during the season but he is somebody that has been as good as advertised so far.”

The wait-and-see approach, however, can be applied both ways. Scherff arguably stands to earn more if he hits free agency, and who could blame him if he wanted to take a year to see how he would fit with Rivera and the coaching staff.

Drafted fifth overall in 2015, Scherff had primarily worked with offensive line coach Bill Callahan throughout his career. Now, he’ll have to get used to offensive line coach John Matsko.

But over Zoom, Scherff didn’t seem concerned with any of that. He praised Matsko, saying he was excited to learn a new system. He appeared in a good mood when sharing details about his offseason in Iowa: He lifted weights and rehabbed his injuries. He also spent quality time hunting and drinking beers on Saturdays. (He even opened up about his beer of choice: Busch Light. No, he isn’t sponsored by them.)

Scherff said he was just glad to be spending another year with Washington.

“Everything will fall into place,” he said.

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.