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Trent Williams coming up big for Redskins

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Trent Williams coming up big for Redskins

When Trent Williams was drafted fourth overall in 2010, the Redskins hoped the left tackle would develop into one of the NFL’s dominant players at the position. 

Two-plus seasons into a career that got off to a rocky start, Williams, at 24, is making significant strides toward earning elite status. 

“The question was work ethic,” Coach Mike Shanahan said this week of Williams’ reputation coming out of Oklahoma. “Was he going to get to the next level? I’ve seen that maturity since he’s been here, learning how to be a pro, learning how to be accountable, learning how to lead. You’re never positive he’s going to be able to do it, or have the discipline to do it. But you can see the progress, and you can see it in his play as well.”

The Redskins lead the NFL in rushing yards with 1,799 (two more than San Francisco). Running back Alfred Morris, meantime, is only 18 yards from 1,000, while quarterback Robert Griffin III ranks among the leaders in completion percentage.

Some of that is the sublime talent Morris and Griffin possess. A decent amount of it, though, is an overachieving Williams-led offensive line that has consistently opened holes for Morris and provided ample time for Griffin to fire off accurate passes.

“Being in the NFC, you [face] all of the top defensive ends, all the top pass rushers,” Williams said. “I’m getting used to that. It’s never easy, but I’m adapting to it. Things are slowing down for me.”

According to ProFootballFocus.com, Williams has given up three sacks (of Griffin’s 25), one quarterback hit and 12 hurries (four coming as he limped through the Dallas game with a bruised thigh).

When Williams dissects film of his performances, he said a couple of things jump off the screen: both his downfield blocks and technique in pass protection are much improved over his sophomore season. He's also more aggressive and instinctual, products of experience and growing confidence.

That said, Williams conceded that he considers himself far from a finished product.

“As a player, you strive to be great,” he said. “Five years down the line, I want it to be a consensus that I’m the best tackle in the game. And I’m going to continue to work hard until I reach that goal.”

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck believes Williams already is well on his way.

“He’s coming into his own as far as being one of the premier left tackles in the league,” Tuck said. “A lot of teams give their linemen a lot of help. I haven’t seen the Redskins give him much help. That lets me know how confident they are in him.”

Asked about the increasing Pro Bowl chatter surrounding his name in recent weeks, Williams smiled said, “I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t mean anything. Of course it means a lot. It means my hard work is finally getting recognized and finally paying off.”

Laying the foundation for his breakout season, however, happened far from the practice fields and classrooms of Redskins Park. It began with getting his personal affairs in order after he missed the final four games of the 2011 season because of an NFL suspension for failed drug tests.

“Last year,” he said, “on the field, I did okay. I played pretty well. In the locker room I was always a good teammate. I got voted a team captain. There were just some things, some decisions I had to make in my personal life, some habits I had to break.”

So far this season, Williams has, by all accounts, been better than a “good” teammate. He’s been an exemplary one. Elected a team captain for the second straight season, he has not missed a game, despite being hampered by bone bruises in his foot and knee as well as ankle and shoulder injuries.

In the Redskins’ victory at Cowboys Stadium on Thanksgiving, Williams suffered a deep thigh bruise when he collided with teammate Kory Lichtensteiger on the third play of the game.

He did not miss a snap.

“It’s heart,” Williams said. “When your body feels pain, you automatically want to shut down. It’s not an easy thing to play through, especially when you play against people who get paid millions to beat you.”

Said Shanahan: “I appreciate him fighting through it and staying out there and helping us win.”

The injury limited Williams in practice and he’s listed as questionable for Monday night’s pivotal showdown with the Giants. But if prior history is any indication, No. 71 will suit up – sporting thigh pads for the first time and possibly a slight limp.

“When you’re less than 100-percent, it makes it that much harder,” Williams said. “I just feel like for me to be a huge asset to this team, I have to play hurt and I have to be able to finish games.”

Williams’ grit hasn’t gone unnoticed by teammates. Asked about Williams' thigh injury, Griffin joked that he would “rub on his leg” if that helped the 6 foot 5, 325 pound tackle heal up.

One of the characters in the Redskins’ locker room, Williams cracked that he appreciated the offer but politely declined it.

“I told him he can keep that,” he said with a chuckle. “He has not rubbed my leg. At no time will he touch my upper thigh.” 

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Here's a small example of Dwayne Haskins' leadership, as told by Matthew Berry

Here's a small example of Dwayne Haskins' leadership, as told by Matthew Berry

ESPN Fantasy Football expert Matthew Berry was at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere last weekend in Los Angeles, where he got the chance to interview the three Redskins rookies in attendance: Dwayne Haskins, Terry McLaurin, and Bryce Love. 

Berry, who was a guest of JP Finlay's on the Redskins Talk podcast on Thursday, has been a fan of the Burgundy and Gold since he was a kid, so he was eager to talk to three of the team's newest players and learn more about them.

It was during those interviews where Berry got a quick glimpse of a side of Haskins that now has Berry really excited.

"I thought what was really cool was... When I was interviewing McLaurin, Dwayne Haskins came in and interrupted the interview to give him some crap," he told Finlay. "It was really a wonderful moment to see. Obviously, they know each other very well from Ohio State, but just the fact that they felt comfortable enough and he wanted to come over and mess with him a little bit and have some fun, I was impressed with that."

Once Haskins left, Berry explained how he asked McLaurin about the interaction. Redskins fans will like McLaurin's answer.

"That's Dwayne, Dwayne is being a leader," McLaurin said, per Berry. 

Haskins did something similar to Love during Love's interview as well. Berry even caught up with Colts receiver Parris Campbell, who also played with the QB at Ohio State, to inquire about the 15th overall pick. 

"I asked him, 'Listen, I'm a diehard Redskins fan, what am I getting?'" Berry said. "He couldn't have been more effusive. 'You're not only getting a guy who puts the ball where you want it, but you're getting a leader. You're getting a guy who makes sure everyone in the huddle is included.'"

You can be skeptical of how much these little moments mean, and that's fair. Ultimately, how quickly Haskins picks up Jay Gruden's playbook and how accurate his arm turns out to be will factor more into his success in the NFL than being able to joke around a bit with some of his guys.

But you can also hope that these little moments are hints of a bigger personality and approach, a look into an athlete who can get a football team to buy into him. That's the side Berry is on.

"I thought that was really cool, and just showed somebody who's very comfortable in the leadership position and who's trying to be inclusive of everyone," he said. "It's early in the process, but I have yet to hear somebody on or off the record say something bad about Dwayne Haskins."

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After viral 2018 scuffle, Taylor Lewan offers to make peace with Josh Norman

After viral 2018 scuffle, Taylor Lewan offers to make peace with Josh Norman

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Titans tackle Taylor Lewan got into a widely-discussed altercation after Washington's Week 16 loss to Tennesse last season.

But on Thursday, Lewan said he's finally ready to let bygones be bygones. 

Lewan tweeted he wants Norman to come on the "Bussin' With The Boys" podcast he co-hosts with former Redskins linebacker Will Compton to "settle our differences."

Judging by what happened last December, there are plenty of differences: Norman threw his helmet at Lewan after the latter approached him, Lewan later accusing Norman of trying to hurt Titans running back Derrick Henry.

"I'm not worried about Josh Norman, man," Lewan told reporters after the incident. "I'm an offensive lineman, he's a [defensive back]. I don't know who that is."

"I was pissed. He was trying to hurt Derrick [Henry]. That's BS. That’s not the way football’s supposed to be played, man. It’s not our fault you’re not relevant anymore."

"Why would you come to another man's sideline?" Norman said of the dust-up. "And then after you won a game, you pick fun at the player that is relevant. You go out of your way to come to his bench, his sideline, to go at him in that kind of way."

"We're not having it. We will not tolerate disrespect. That's zero tolerance for that. That was the ultimate disrespect. You just don't do that."

The incident happened months ago, so it's about time the pair made peace. And as an ex-Redskin and ex-Titan, perhaps Compton can help mend the fences. But if Norman does accept Lewan's invitation to come on the podcast, we might be in for even more verbal fireworks. 

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