For Tyler Catalina, the NFL journey hasn't been the smoothest. He entered the league in 2017 after going undrafted out of the University of Georgia, and has kept that gritty, prove-it mentality throughout his young career that earned him a final roster spot just a short two seasons ago.
After dealing with a minor rib injury, Catalina’s season was cut short due to a torn labrum that immediately required surgery. After playing every season since high school, sitting out an entire year was something he thought he’d never experience.
“It’s miserable. It’s not a fun thing," Catalina said. "You watch guys on TV that you’re friends with get hurt and you can’t be there to support them or be out on the field to support the team. That kind of drives me, and it gives me the energy to come back and say ‘Hey, I’m going to be there for these guys and I’m going to put my body on the line.'
"I missed out on all the experience playing with these guys, but it’s a blessing because I was able to get my body right. I feel like I’m five times stronger than I was probably heading into the season."
Catalina has credited the efforts of offensive line coach Bill Callahan for keeping the unit intact as the injuries the past two seasons has ravaged the group. As the second-year man spent the entire year on Injured Reserve, he didn’t want his face to become blurry in the face of his teammates and coaches.
“I would see the guys walking around if I was in the locker room and I would talk to them a little bit, see how practice went and what the game plan was, just trying to keep my head in a football mode," Catalina said. "I did go to a few meetings throughout the year to just see what was going on. I talked to coach [Bill] Callahan and just popped my face in to show him that I was still there and to show my interest.”
Catalina, mostly used at guard throughout his career thus far, can also play tackle, providing versatility to the line.
“I’m a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none," Catalina said. "I’m just trying to stick around here for as long as I can, help this team out as much as I can, play anywhere they need me. That’s my goal every day and I’ve got to work on it.”
With his offseason duration longer than usual, Catalina is using the time to increase not only his knowledge of coach Callahan’s scheme, but his familiarity with Redskins Park as well. As some players head home to workout at separate training facilities, Catalina will “be here [Redskins Park]," throughout the duration of the winter months leading into OTA’s.
“I’ve developed a great relationship with the strength and training staff. I have full trust in them," he said. "I believe in what we’re doing in the strength room because I’m seeing the results. I’m pushing numbers and doing things I didn’t think I could do on my own. I have 100 percent trust in these guys.”
Catalina, one of the youngest offensive linemen in a group that touts two Pro-bowlers in tackle Trent Williams and guard Brandon Scherff, has used his veteran teammates to his advantage gathering tips and knowledge everyday throughout his journey back from injury.
Scherff and Catalina have developed a strong bond over the time that they both have been on the shelf. Catalina gave Redskins.com an update on how Scherff has been progressing from his pectoral injury that saw his season cut short in early November.
“He’s doing great. He’s just one of those guys that, no matter what challenge faces him, he’s going to give 110 percent," Catalina said. "He’s always working hard, I see him in the weight room and it’s extraordinary to see the kind of character he has, how strong willed he is.”
That bond could serve Catalina well heading into offseason workouts, as Callahan’s group looks to regain chemistry to prove to themselves, as well as defenses around the league, that they are still a force to be reckoned with.