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Before signing with Redskins, Donald Penn sought advice from Trent Williams

Before signing with Redskins, Donald Penn sought advice from Trent Williams

RICHMOND -- The biggest story of Redskins' training camp thus far has been about the player who has yet to show up, as left tackle Trent Williams continues to hold out.

In desperate need of offensive tackle depth, the Redskins signed left tackle Donald Penn on Tuesday, and head coach Jay Gruden confirmed the signing on Wednesday. The 36-year-old has been more than a serviceable left tackle, as he's made three Pro Bowls over his 12-year career. 

Penn worked out for the Redskins last week but was not signed until Tuesday. So, what took so long?

"Well, I had other teams calling and other teams interested," Penn said. "I wanted to go home and weigh my options and I have been kind of comfortable the last five years being in Oakland because I’m from L.A. and my kids are out there, living close to home; coming out here is going to be a big decision. I wanted to make the best fit and best decision. The good thing is, the Redskins gave me time to do that and it ended up working out good."

But other than speaking with his family, Penn made a call to another left tackle in the league. That tackle? Trent Williams.

"Trent’s one of my good friends," Penn said. "I reached out to Trent before I signed. We had a good conversation and we talked. We’re on the same page."

Of course, Penn was immediately asked if he had any new information about his friend's holdout. But Penn made sure that conversation remained private.

"I’m not going to get into that too much," he said. "I mean, it was a personal conversation between me and Trent though, but I’ll just leave it at that."

There are two different ways you could look at this situation. The first is if Williams truly does not want to play for the organization again, why would he advise Penn, his friend, to sign there? Or, Williams could have told Penn that he is for sure not coming back, and the left tackle job is his to lose.

Only time will be able to answer those questions.

But should Williams return to the Redskins, Penn would still provide much-needed depth at the position by playing the swing tackle role. He seemed very open to that possibility on Wednesday.

"If they want me to be the swing guy – we talked about that – I'll definitely be the swing guy," he said. "You know, I talked to Trent [Williams] about that, too. So, we'll see what's going to happen, but right now I'm going to be focusing at left tackle."

Penn had his first action with the Redskins on Wednesday, participating in multiple individual and team drills. And even with the Redskins Pro Bowl LT still absent from training camp, Penn is excited for the offensive line group he gets to work with.

"We have a great O-Line coach, one of the best O-Line coaches in the league," he said on coach Bill Callahan. "That was another big factor [in signing with Washington]."

Penn made it clear that he signed with Washington for one reason: he's here to win.

"We got a good thing going because if we didn’t, you know I am going into my last year; I’m not just signing to play, I’m signing to win," he said.


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Montae Nicholson says it was his decision to play days after death at his home

Montae Nicholson says it was his decision to play days after death at his home

Speaking publicly for the first time since missing practice after participating in an investigation into the death of 21-year-old Julia Crabbe, Montae Nicholson thanked the Redskins organization and his teammates for their support.

Nicholson, who played just days after Crabbe's drug overdose death at his home, said the decision to play in last Sunday's game against the Jets was difficult but was his alone.

"It was, without a doubt," Nicholson said of how hard the decision to play. "But, you know, at the end of the day, it was my decision. I wasn't forced into anything. It wasn't easy at all trying to separate the field from everything that was going on."

According to reports, Nicholson found Crabbe collapsed in his bathroom. He took her to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. Nicholson is reported to be cooperating with investigators looking into the victim's death. 

When speaking to reporters on Thursday, Nicholson asked that the media respect his privacy and said he wouldn't be taking questions on the legal situation. 

"This week has been extremely hard on not only myself but Julia's friends and family, as well. I would appreciate if you all respect my privacy while everything is going on," he said. "At this time, I will only be taking questions on responding to and about the Lions this week. I'm sorry."

He has practiced all week in advance of the Lions and is expected to play on Sunday. Diving into football, he said, has been a large part of his coping with the tragedy. 

"It's been rough, to say the least. But, you know, with my teammates and friends who aren't in the state or just aren't around here, the head office made it very well known that they have my back in everything that was going on and if I needed anything, just to talk or anything like that, they made that known that the door was wide open," he said. 

Nicholson said having the team's support means a lot to him. 

"They could've shut the door on me and turned their backs, but they didn't," he said. "And that just speaks volumes to the type of program I'm a part of. I'm extremely grateful to be here and to still be here."

This isn't Nicholson's first off-field incident during his time with the Redskins. He finished the 2018 season under suspension after being arrested for a fight outside of a Loudon County restaurant. Those charges were later dropped. 


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Derrius Guice understands why Redskins fans are frustrated, but he's looking ahead

Derrius Guice understands why Redskins fans are frustrated, but he's looking ahead

Derrius Guice is a very positive person. Unfortunately, he's playing for a team right now that's shrouded in negativity.

The Redskins have played 10 games this season, and they've walked off the field as losers in nine of those contests. They've gotten rid of their head coach, and many are wondering how many other major changes will come.

And when it comes to the fans, many — if not most — are furious with the direction of the franchise. Guice is noticing that, too.

"It just sucks when I score, or someone else scores, and our team posts a picture to Instagram or Twitter and everything under it is just, 'Fire this, fire that, we suck," Guice told JP Finlay in a 1-on-1 interview on the Redskins Talk podcast. "That doesn't help anything."

The running back understands that frustration. However, he wants those who are angry to know one thing: While this current roster is obviously responsible for the 2019 issues, they aren't responsible for the two-decade-long slump that's affected the organization.

"I'm new here," Guice said. "I understand some of these fans have been here 20-30 years, but like, there's a lot of guys on this team that are new. Y'all can't bring all that negativity to us like we've been here 20 years. I don't think that's fair to us players."

That's what makes this situation so difficult for those on the field and those who watch those on the field. Fans have been on this unsatisfying ride for far too long, yet most of the players hopped on a stop or two ago. 

So people who post those hateful comments or send those angry DMs are doing so because they've seen a handful of free agency and draft classes bust, and because they've seen numerous coaches come in and fail, and they've been lied to repeatedly about how "close" the Redskins are. They aren't necessarily trying to take it out on Guice or Dwayne Haskins or Landon Collins, it just appears that way.

Guice, for one, is aiming to improve how he handles that side of being an athlete. He's also choosing to focus on those who've stayed on his side through what's been a tumultuous first couple of seasons in the league.

For all the negativity he encounters, he's grateful for those who remain positive like him.

"A guy that's been there two years and has only played two real games, there's a lot of fans that have still never left my side since I got drafted," Guice said. "That's something I always have to cherish."