Entering his 11th season, Kedric Golston still guides Redskins on and off the field

August 10, 2016 GMT

RICHMOND When Kedric Golston thinks about his first training camp, he fondly recalls stuffing a duffel bag with most of his clothes, uncertain of his future after the Washington Redskins selected him in the sixth round out of Georgia.

“I didn’t know when I’d be coming home,” Golston said. “It was really a weird feeling, just not knowing if I was going to be here or not, what the future held, the feeling of being in limbo.

“I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.”

Eleven seasons and 140 regular-season games later, Golston is still in Washington and his role much more certain. He’s the elder statesman of the defensive line and the longest-tenured Redskins player on the roster, better known to his teammates as “Uncle Ked.”

Golston, 33, shares his wisdom about football and living a fulfilling life off the field, something veteran and young players have absorbed from the savvy nose tackle.

“Uncle Ked, man, he’s the original OG,” said defensive end Kendall Reyes, who signed with the Redskins this past offseason after spending four years with the San Diego Chargers.

“He’s got a lot of insight, great family man. It’s nice having a guy like that in your corner. I’ve learned a different way to look at the game, a different perspective. Different ways to take care of your body and how to mentally approach certain things.”

The league has changed significantly since Golston entered, most notably when organized training camp featured two-a-day practices and no restrictions on the number of padded practices until changes were made in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Technological advances have also been made, such as installing playbooks on iPads, something Golston said has revolutionized the way players can study when they’re at home.

What hasn’t changed, though, is the grind a young player faces when trying to make the roster as an unproven talent. When asked about his first practice as a Redskins player, Golston recalled the blisters on his feet a pain he had never felt until this point.

“My cleats were eating my feet up, but I remember not going to the trainers because I didn’t want them to know something was wrong with me,” Golston said.

Despite the pain, Golston had a strong first training camp. When the Redskins played Cincinnati in the first preseason game, he eventually took the field with the starters and lined up against the Bengals’ four-time Pro-Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson. To the dismay of former defensive line coach Greg Blache, Golston didn’t fare so well.

“Anderson and [another lineman] just double-teamed the mess out of me,” Golston said. “Drove me 10, 12 yards off the line of scrimmage. I get to the sideline and coach Blache says, ‘Kedric was that you?’ I said, ‘Yes, sir, yes sir.’ He said, ‘You’re getting a one-way bus ticket out of here if you don’t change that.’ That was when I understood this was grown-man football and you’ve got to focus on your technique and stuff like that.”

Since that moment, Golston has certainly honed his technique, though it’s an area he constantly strives to improve. He also tries to impart that knowledge on young players, something rookie Matt Ioannidis has experienced first hand since the Redskins drafted him in the fifth round.

“Ked’s been good, he’s a guy of few words at times but when he does decide to talk, he’s always got wisdom to share and saying positive stuff,” Ioannidis said. “I’ve always appreciated what he’s shared with me, a lot of technique, just some of the tricks only veterans tend to master. Things to look for, things to see against in alignment-type stuff.

“It’s tough as a rookie, you feel the pressure every day to do well and produce.”

When the Redskins decided not to re-sign nose tackle Terrance Knighton after one season and brought back Golston on a one-year contract, it was clear they believed he could still be productive as the nose tackle in the center of the team’s 3-4 defense. Though they’ll be in their base set significantly less, opting instead for nickel packages against pass-happy opponents, Golston’s presence will still be felt both on and off the field.

Golston smiled when asked about the thought of a 12th season, then steered the conversation toward how he can continue to grow as a football player. He moves gingerly as he walks off the field, but he still enjoys training camp and the process he’s endured to get to this point, and his message to his younger teammates is a pointed one.

“Embrace the moment and don’t waste it,” Golston said. “Because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”