Rookie O-linemen putting in extra time

A trio of rookie offensive linemen haven’t played an offensive snap in a regular-season game yet, but they continue to put in overtime in practice to get there.

After practice, nearly every day, a group of rookie offensive linemen will stay late after in order to get more work in. David Yankey, a rookie out of Stanford, Austin Wentworth, a rookie out of Fresno State, and Zac Kerin, a rookie out of Toledo who is on the practice squad, will all stay after practice to get more work in with assistant offensive line coach Hank Fraley.

By doing this every week the three of them have grown close and have gotten to know each other very well.

“I think all the rookies are pretty close,” said Wentworth. “Me, David and Zac are, you know, you kind of go through the grind together, and you got to do the rookie life together, which kind of brings you closer, so yeah, we are pretty good friends.”

Although making friends is nice, the primary reason the three of them started this after-practice session is so they could work on getting better and refining their techniques. They say that no one originally came up with the idea, but instead the group collectively thought of it.

They also mention that anyone can join, and sometimes others do join them, but for the most part it is just the three rookies. The point of the after-practice session is to be able to get more time to work on things.

“Well its anybody, anybody who wants to work on something they might have messed up in practice, or just want to get more refined,” Wentworth said. “Most of the times its just rookies, but just doing the little things, you know, going back through the day and if you had a block you didn’t like, doing a couple drills, doing that. Just trying to get in a little extra time.”

One reason why it is mainly the rookies taking part in this activity is because it is normally hard for younger players to get a lot of reps during practice, especially when they are not a part of the starting unit.

“We have just been getting extra work, working our pass defense and trying to go against defensive linemen, just trying to get a little extra work,” Yankey said. “That’s always good. Especially when you are getting scout team reps, you’re not getting reps with the ones. Just going over stuff like that, continuing to work your technique.”

Although the rookies will watch each other and help each other with what they need to improve on, it’s Fraley who is probably helping them the most.

When talking to the players about Fraley, you can tell they have a lot of respect for him. He played in the NFL for 11 seasons with Philadelphia (2000-05), Cleveland (2006-09) and St. Louis (2010). While in Philadelphia he also started at center during Super Bowl XXXIX.

“He’s a guy who played for a long time, so he has a lot of great knowledge,” Yankey said. “Every time we talk to him we pretty much learn something new, so it’s been awesome just learning techniques and all these little tricks of the trade from him.”

It’s hard for young players to sit on the sidelines and have to watch the game when they want to be out there helping their team. So they have decided to work as hard as they can for as long as they can until they can make an impact in the game.

“Everyone wants to play,” said Yankey. “You want to be contributing to the team in an active role on game day, so it’s always tough when you’re on the sidelines.”

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