ASHBURN -- Shawn Lauvao wasn't exactly surprised first round pick and fellow offensive lineman Brandon Scherff struggled early in training camp. The Redskins starting left guard spoke about Washington's right guard early last month in Richmond.
"Any time you’re coming out as a rookie to play o-line, I can tell you, man you’re gonna get your ass kicked regardless," the veteran said of the fifth overall pick.
Scherff went from experimenting at right tackle to guard one week into camp. He went from facing teammates during practices to Texans All-Pro pass rusher J.J. Watt on the day Lauvao spoke to playing in three preseason games. The hulking lineman from the University of Iowa showed improvement over that stretch. During other moments, including the second preseason game against Detroit, Scherff was bulldozed.
Reminded of his previous comments about rookie offensive linemen this week, Lauvao remained anything but astonished over Scherff's difficulties.
"Oh yeah. The two positions where I’ve seen people just get their asses kicked is O-line and cornerback. I could care less [about draft status]. It’s nice and all when you’re the top pick, but I’m like, bro, you will get humbled very quick. I’ve seen it time and time again."
More humbling is likely on the horizon, starting with Sunday's regular season opener against the Dolphins. For Scherrf, that will mean plenty of Ndamukong Suh. Arguably the most feared interior defensive lineman in the NFL, the ex-Lion signed a massive free agent deal with Miami this offseason. Sunday is Suh's regular season debut with the Dolphins.
It's also Scherff's first ever NFL game. The rookie also is spending his first season in a new system, a scenario Lauvao labored through last season.
As Bruce Willis' Die Hard character would say, welcome to the party, pal.
"Ndamukong plays on the right side [of the offensive line] predominantly" said Lauvuo, who faced Suh during his time with the Cleveland Browns. "He predominantly lines up on the right side, I mean like right guard. You pay a guy that much, and for sure he’ll have a say in what he wants to do. Honestly he’s a tremendous player. "
Considering the nexperience on the Redskins right side with Scherff and tackle Morgan Moses, expect Suh to demand Miami's coaching staff line him up there.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden explained a "quick passing game" and positive plays in the running game will help Scherff and the line overall against Miami's potent front four.
“He’s done a good job. I’m fired up about Brandon," Gruden said. "Like I said before, he’s going to have his ups and downs. He’s going against some pretty good players on the defensive line his first couple weeks. He’s got Aaron Donald with the Rams, he’s got [Ndamukong] Suh, possibility he could be over there. ...He’s going to have some great challenges early, we’ll see how ready he is."
Based on Lauvao's general assessment of rookie linemen and the impressive opposition, don't be surprised if Scherff looks anything but ready at times. Lauvao also warns against using Cowboys guard Zach Martin's impressive rookie season last year as any kind of bar.
If Scherff labors, fans should remain patient. This seems obvious considering a season lasts 16 games and the Redskins have offensive line guru Bill Callahan on staff. Scherff's talent suggests he'll eventually figure out the NFL game and then some. His mental game is one reason why.
"The one thing about him is I feel like he’s a mentally tough, stable human being," Gruden said of Scherff. "If he does get beat, it’s not going to affect him in the long haul. He’s going to keep competing and that’s what we like to see.
"It’s one thing to get beat every now and then on a nice swim move or a bull rush or something like that. But to not let it affect your play moving forward is very, very important. We think that’s a great quality that Brandon has."
Lauvao has faith, in both Scherff and the process.
"I mean, there’s a reason why [Scherff] was drafted. There’s definitely some tangibles and some skill sets, some talent. Just like anything, like I said, there is a process. It’s just trying to connect that passion with that, like you were saying, that resilience to fill that vision.
"A lot of times people can’t just come in and ball out. I mean what Zach Martin did last year, that doesn’t happen all the time. Like anything, you just take it one day at a time and just build off that."