When the Trent Williams holdout first surfaced during mandatory minicamp, there was some hope that the saga would end prior to the beginning of training camp. That is no longer the case. News broke on Monday that the left tackle would continue his holdout as the headed down to Richmond, and on Wednesday he was nowhere to be found.
Though concerning, head coach Jay Gruden believes Williams will be back before the team goes too deep into training camp.
"We expect him here sooner [rather] than later," Gruden said at his press conference on Wednesday.
The two haven't shared a conversation during the holdout, as Gruden mentioned, but that's not due to any animosity in their player-coach relationship. While there's no denying he'd rather have his left tackle at camp, Gruden understands that Williams has to handle his own business.
Having worked together for five seasons, Gruden still thinks incredibly highly of an integral part of his team..
"Right now there are some things that he has to work out individually and personally - with his agent, professionally - whatever that may be. I don't take anything personal in this business, for sure," Gruden said. "I love Trent, I love what he has done for this franchise and this team, but we expect him back soon."
In the meantime, Gruden's focus remains on the players who are at camp. A holdout is a new scenario for an absence from Williams, but it's not the first time the Redskins have had to work on the fly without him on the field. Much like when injuries have forced the 7-time Pro Bowler out of the lineup, it just means Washington has to adapt to the next man up mentality.
While in an ideal world Gruden would have his left tackle get as much time to gel and work with his fellow offensive linemen prior to Week 1 in Philadelphia, he does seem some positives in the chances other men upfront will get at camp.
"It's a great opportunity for other guys, Geron Christian; it's a great opportunity for him. Great opportunity for Ereck Flowers, play some more tackle and play some guard, a great opportunity for Wes Martin to get more reps at guard," Gruden said. "Some of these absences is another person's opportunity, and those guys will take advantage of it."
"We have maybe 86, 85 healthy bodies right now – most I've had since I've been here. We have a lot of guys to look at, a lot of work to be done. So, competition will be great at every position, and we don't expect any drop off when some players are not here. We expect other guys to step up and perform," Gruden added.
Williams not being a training camp does create some question marks along the offensive line. If the holdout goes longer than expected, a major shuffle could be sparked.
But, as Gruden alluded to on Wednesday, it's not all bad for the front five right now.
"Brandon Scherff looks amazing. He's in great shape, best shape of his life. Chase [Roullier] looks great. Morgan Moses came in unbelievable shape, down to 328 [pounds]. Best shape of his career, in my opinion," Gruden said. "I feel good about those guys and the rest of those guys, Wes Martin for being a rookie, and the rest of the guys have done a good job on coming in shape. They ran really well."
As things kick off on Thursday, Trent Williams won't be lined up to protect the blindside of the quarterbacks. But while he's gone, Gruden will shape his offense around what he has. And when he returns - which Gruden believes is soon - he'll be a welcome addition to an offensive line that is filled with potential.
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