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Whatever Role Is Asked Out Of Him, John Sullivan Ready To Get Back On Field

Posted Sep 28, 2016

More than a year since John Sullivan last took snaps in a regular season game, the nine-year veteran has the experience -- along with a full bill of health -- to help the Redskins right away.

More than a year since John Sullivan last took snaps in a regular season game, the nine-year veteran has the experience -- along with a full bill of health -- to help the Redskins right away.

It has been a whirlwind three days for new Redskins center John Sullivan, as he has gone from home to his first workout with a team other than the Minnesota Vikings to being a member of the Washington’s active roster.

“I didn’t leave town; I went right to meetings,” Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday. “Got in there with [offensive line] coach [Bill] Callahan and the guys – an awesome room, good group. Honestly, it feels like I’m back in training camp, trying to learn an offense and spending a lot of time here at the facility and then staying in a hotel room close by. So it’s a little bit different, but exciting, all the same.”

Sullivan is by no means new to the center position, as he started 93 games for the Vikings over the course of the 2009-14 seasons. But signing with a new team midseason does come with some challenges, mostly developing a solid relationship with fellow offensive linemen and the quarterback.

“You built that rapport through reps and time,” Sullivan said. “That just comes. If you execute the system the way it’s supposed to be executed, things will run smoothly.”

While Sullivan watched on during individual drills in his first practice with the Redskins as he learned all of the team’s terminology, the fact he’s a nine-year pro with loads of starting experience helps in case the team needs him in the starting lineup.

For now, Spencer Long is receiving first-team reps at center with the team experimenting with options for the left side of the line with Shawn Lauvao sidelined with an ankle injury.

Eventually, Long could shift back over to guard with Sullivan at the center position.

“We like that he’s played center for a long time and has been very successful, that’s number one [for] a true center,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. “If need be, when he comes in there if something happens to Spencer, he’ll be ready to go. He’s a very bright guy and I think he will help this football team in the long run.”

One of the biggest adjustments for Sullivan will be getting the calls down in the Redskins’ offensive scheme, just as he had to during his years with the Vikings when he worked under three different offensive coordinators.

“There are certain changes here and there,” Sullivan said. “and I’ve played in a few systems, so there is some carry over more from the first system I was in, in Minnesota. It’s just getting Bill [Callahan’s] calls down, Bill’s techniques— all that stuff. The guys are helping me along, and Bill and [assistant offensive line] coach [Kevin Carberry] are doing a good job, so I think I’ll have it pretty quick.”

If Sullivan is active on Sunday, it will mark his first regular season appearance since Week 17 of the 2014 season. The Notre Dame product missed all of the 2015 season but has felt he’s been at full strength since OTAs began back in April.

“At that point, you get through a couple days without feeling any restrictions and you start to really forget about it,” Sullivan said. “If you didn’t tell me that I was injured at some point, I wouldn’t know that I ever had the injury. So, I feel good.”

As for his role early on with the offensive line, he’s going to do whatever the coaching staff wants out of him.

“(I’ll) Just be a good, functioning part of that group,” Sullivan said. “I’ll be up to speed on the offense quickly. I’m learning fast. I’m making sure I take every single rep. Even when I’m not in there, taking it mentally. Coach Carberry is in the side giving me play calls that I can identify exactly what terminology I’m going to use at the line of scrimmage. What my role is, that’s up to the coaches completely, but I’ll have it down.”

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