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John Sullivan Has Successful Outing In First Start With Redskins

Posted Dec 13, 2016

With injuries all over the offensive line, center John Sullivan had a standout performance starting and playing in his first full game as a member of the Redskins.

With injuries all over the offensive line, center John Sullivan had a standout performance starting and playing in his first full game as a member of the Redskins.

A variety of different players have stepped up each week for the Redskins. In fact, it appears to be the theme of the 2016 season - a new player seems to make an impact every game.

In the win over the Eagles, the Redskins' offensive line had a huge performance despite being without two starters. Both center Spencer Long and guard Shawn Lauvao sat out with injuries, leaving Arie Kouandjio to take over at guard and John Sullivan to start his first game as a member of the Redskins at center.

The veteran played 43 offensive plays in the loss to the Cardinals the week before, when Long first went out, but was called upon to make his first start in the NFL since 2014.

For him, getting that opportunity to show what he can do once again was something special.

It felt great. I want to keep playing football; I want to be a starter,” Sullivan said. “This my goal ultimately, but I’m just embracing whatever role this team needs from me. If that’s to be a backup and come in the game when need be, that’s fine, too. I want to be a team player. You can’t beat winning and you can’t beat playing in the NFL, there’s nothing like it.”

Sullivan joined the Redskins in September after center Kory Lictensteiger was placed on Injured Reserve, although he was moved back to the active roster on Saturday. Sullivan became a starting center in the league in 2009, his second season, and remained in the starting lineup for 93 games over the course of six seasons before injury forced him to miss all of the 2015 campaign.

While Sullivan is a very experienced player, being able to communicate with other veteran members of the offensive line in preparation for his start was a useful tool to making sure he was ready to go.

“[Lictensteiger and I] were talking as peers,” Sullivan said. “We were together for three weeks in Minnesota back in 2009, and went through the Combine together, that whole pre-draft process. So I’ve known Kory for a long time. He’s a great resource. Whenever there are little technique issues, calls and stuff like that, I’m able to ask Kory, bounce it off him and it’s like talking to (offensive line coach) Bill [Callahan]. Kory’s very experienced in this offense; he’s a great asset.”

The offensive line put on quite a performance with the help of tackle Trent Williams starting again in his first game back from a four-game suspension. The team ran for 107 yards and only gave up two sacks on quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The group showed how effective it can be with the offense’s last drive, where the game-winning touchdown was scored in a large part by Williams and the offensive line’s ability to block down field for running back Chris Thompson.

While it is unclear how much longer Sullivan will get the opportunity to start in games, the offensive line has show all year an ability to make do with whatever combination of players it is working with they’ve been able to get the job done. And with Sullivan taking on some responsibility, the Eagles game was no different.

“The group is great,” Sullivan said. “Trent gave a speech pregame about there’s always going to be adversity when you go out there playing in the NFL. So how we handle that, when times get tough – do we execute and stay the course? When you do that, like [Sunday], good things happen and you come out with wins.”

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