Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lauvao Ready For Challenges @ Camp

Browns rookie offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao is hardly overwhelmed by his new surroundings. Actually, he's conquering them with tremendous poise.

Lauvao is not baffled by an unfamiliar, complex playbook.

He's not having problems holding his own against veteran players.

He's not even fazed about moving from Arizona to Northeast Ohio. (Sure, it hasn't snowed since his arrival, but you get the point.)

Lauvao is confident, intelligent and mature. And there's a reason he displays those attributes.

After graduating from Farrington High School in his hometown of Honolulu in 2005, Lauvao had to grow up fast.

'I graduated kind of early,'' Lauvao said. ''In Hawaii, it's a lot more different. They'll start kids at 4. By the time I got to college, I was 17.

''As soon as I went to college, I was on my own. My parents live in Hawaii. My dad got real sick and then from there, they went back to Samoa, so I barely see my parents.''

But before Lauvao's departure, his parents, Sisifo S. Lauvao Jr. and Faumuiana Lee Lauvao, prepared him well for the road ahead. He earned a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on education and sociology. He's also close to earning a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

''My parents, they're hard-working people,'' Lauvao said. ''At a young age, I had to leave them. But fortunately because I've gotten drafted, I've been able to kind of link up again with them, so it's been really good.''

Lauvao has not only adjusted well in everyday life, but he's also done it on the football field. During training camp Monday, he played right guard with the first-team offense for the second consecutive day.

''I think Shawn's been doing a really good job,'' Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas said. ''It's hard for any rookie to be thrown into the fire, getting reps with the ones against the one defense, but he's a really smart kid. He's showing he can pick up the offense very quickly. He's got really nice feet, and he's got a willingness to learn and work hard. I think he's going to be very successful.''

The Browns drafted Lauvao, 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, in the third round (92nd overall) of this year's draft. He finished his career at Arizona State University with 33 consecutive starts, including 17 at left guard, 12 at left tackle and four at right tackle.

With the Browns, Lauvao's primary position has been guard, but he has also served as a backup center despite his limited experience snapping a football.

''He'll work some at guard, some at center, both sides,'' Browns coach Eric Mangini said. ''He's doing a good job with what we're asking him to do right now.

''If he can build in that versatility where he can play center and guard, that improves his chances of going to the game that much more each week because one guy can play really three spots. He can play center and both guards.''

Lauvao said there have not been any discussions with his new coaches about him trying tackle. Instead, veteran Floyd Womack has been playing first-string right tackle the past two days while another potential starter, Tony Pashos, had been sidelined with an illness but returned for the second practice Monday. Womack and Lauvao have been expected to compete at right guard for some time.

''It's been a tremendous opportunity,'' Lauvao said. ''Coach is really making it a point that he wants me to learn as much as possible and just come in and compete.''

It won't be easy for Lauvao to surpass a veteran for a starting job during training camp, but he eagerly accepted the challenge.

''These are guys who have been doing it for a while,'' he said. '' . . . These are all guys who know what they're doing. From there, it just elevates the competition.

''I'm gonna be my own worst critic. I want to play as best as possible. I want to come in and compete. . . . I want to get better. You know what I mean? I'm not afraid to get dirty. I'm not afraid to work.''

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