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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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Need to Know: The five best teams the Redskins will play in 2018

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Need to Know: The five best teams the Redskins will play in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 15, 11 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best teams the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Most of the focus will be on individuals such as quarterbacks and pass rushers, but we’re going to get started with the best teams on the schedule. These are roughly ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. 

1. Eagles (13-3, Super Bowl champs)—They were fifth overall in DVOA and the second-ranked team on the schedule. But DVOA is calculated for the regular season only and you have to say that by the time the playoffs were over that the Eagles had taken their game up a few notches over everyone else. They haven’t lost much over the offseason, putting them at the top of the heap and the Redskins play them twice. 

2. Saints (11-5, lost in divisional round)—New Orleans was the top team in DVOA in 2017. After a couple of mediocre seasons, the Saints have retooled, and they will make a push to get Drew Brees his second Super Bowl ring. They play in Week 5, which means that Mark Ingram will be back from his four-game suspension to open the season and he will be alongside Alvin Kamara in the Saints backfield. They both had over 100 yards from scrimmage when the teams played last year. 

3. Jaguars (10-6, lost AFC title game)—They finally made the jump after failing for the last few years as the trendy preseason pick. It was no fluke as they outscored their opponents by 149 points on the season. Their quarterback situation is far from ideal with Blake Bortles, but they are strong enough defensively (first in defensive DVOA) to rely on their running game. 

4. Panthers (11-5, lost in wild-card round)—They certainly have had the Redskins’ number, winning the last six matchups, a streak going back to 2009. This doesn’t seem to be one of those fluke situations. The Redskins simply have problems matching up with Cam Newton. Carolina also is solid defensively (No. 7 in DVOA). 

5. Falcons (10-6, lost in divisional round)—Even though the Cowboys ranked a couple of notches ahead of the Falcons in DVOA, I’m putting the Falcons ahead of them. Dallas doesn’t have a good enough defense to win with their running game. I’ve always been a big Matt Ryan fan and a lot more people would be too if he hadn’t been victimized by poor defense and bad play calling in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Add in Julio Jones and their running backs and you have a scary offense. Defensively they are not that good but I still like their unit better than that of the Cowboys.

Rest of top 10:

6. Packers—Almost put them ahead of Falcons, their DVOA suffered last year with Rodgers out.
7. Cowboys—Even with problems on D, still have the Redskins’ number.
8. Texans—Way down the DVOA rankings last year but they will the tough with J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson back. 
9. Titans—I’m not sure if they’re ready to take the next step up but they will be hard to beat. 
10. Bucs—The bolstered a defense that already with tough with Jason Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 11
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 25
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 48

The Redskins last played a game 196 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 56 days. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Breaking down the Alexander pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Breaking down the Alexander pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 14, 12 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

Is Junior Galette hinting at a possible return to the Redskins? I would be very surprised if Galette ever wears a Redskins uniform again although it would make sense for them to talk to him. I think the Redskins should be very nervous about their depth at outside linebacker. Pernell McPhee can get them some pressure, but he has missed 10 games over the last two seasons. Ryan Anderson’s next NFL sack will be his first. You can’t have too many pass rushers; the Redskins could well find themselves in a spot where they don’t have enough. 

Upside outweighed risk in Redskins' selection of Alexander—The selection of Adonis Alexander wasn’t quite a no-brainer, but it was not a tough call for the Redskins to make. Torrian Gray, who recruited and coached Alexander at Virginia Tech, gave the green light so it came down to his potential and what draft pick they were willing to give up. They have two in the fifth round next year and they had three in the sixth. They might as well get one of those late Saturday afternoon picks in a year early and see what they have. We have more analysis of the Alexander pick here and here

If Guice is legitimate, the Redskins running game could explode—With the exception of the 2012-2013 seasons, when quarterback Robert Griffin III was kicking in a lot of yards on the ground, the Redskins have not been in the top 10 in the league in rushing yards since 2008. Derrius Guice could help change that. Read the post for my in-depth look at the running back position. 

Madden has a clear answer for the Alex Smith-Kirk Cousins debate—I don’t know much about Madden ratings, so I don’t have a lot to add here. It doesn’t look to me like the difference between the ratings of Smith and Cousins constitute and “clear” advantage but, again, what do I know?

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Joe Jacoby belongs in the Hall of Fame. If you’re reading this, I think you know that. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 12
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 54

The Redskins last played a game 195 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 57 days. 

In case you missed it