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Trent Williams: 20 in 20

Trent Williams: 20 in 20

As we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.

Question 16: Can Trent Williams go from being a good left tackle to being a great one?

The background: Williams was Mike Shanahans first draft pick with the Redskins, the fourth overall selection in the 2010 draft. He has tremendous athletic ability for a man his size (6-5, 328) and he is a perfect fit for the zone-blocking scheme. When he is focused he can dominate the man across from him. Last year he was starting to round into form as a top left tackle and then the four-game substance abuse suspension hit. This year, he is the highest-paid player on the team with a salary of 11 million. Can he stay focused and continue to progress on the upward path he was on last year? Or will he coast on a contract that pays him 34 million over the next four years and be happy to be average?

Tandler: Williams knows that he is under the microscope. Both Mike and Kyle Shanahan have spoken repeatedly about the need for Williams to step up and be the player he is capable of being. He is tasked with guarding the blind side of the franchise, Robert Griffin III. With the array of top pass rushers the Redskins face in the division and in many of their other games, Williams has a great responsibility. The good thing is that, unlike a year ago, he is not talking about taking the game more seriously; he is doing it. Williams has been the star of training camp so far and his willingness to tough it out for a half against the Bears and Julius Peppers with a bone bruise in his foot shows a new level of commitment and maturity. As long as he stays quiet and continues to get it done, he should continue to progress towards becoming one of the best in the business.

El-Bashir: Williams hasnt been the best offensive lineman in training camp. Until he suffered a bruised bone in his left foot, the 6 foot 5, 328-pound left tackle had been the best player at Redskins Park during the first two weeks of practice. At 24, the former first round pick finally seems to get it after nearly losing everything to a four-game drug suspension last season.

Another slipup would result a year-long ban and the possible end to a promising career -- and it seems to have scared him straight. This, no doubt, is a critical season for Williams, and thus far hes approaching it as such. But the question is whether he can blossom into an elite tackle on par with Clevelands Joe Thomas or the New York Jets DBrickashaw Ferguson. Like most things when it comes to Williams, thats entirely up to whether he feels like doing it.

20 questions in 20 days
20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 YesterdayIs Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 TodayCan Trent Williams got from good to great?
15 TomorrowCan DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 SundayCan Santana Moss regain his old form?

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Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

ASHBURN, VA—Here is a look at what Jay Gruden covered in his Monday news conference after the Redskins’ win over the Giants.

—We hit on some of the major injury news but there is the complete list: “DeAngelo [Hall], torn ACL, has surgery – he’ll be out for the season. [Bashaud] Breeland, he got an MRI, he has strained tendons in his ankle – he’ll be week to week. Shawn Lauvao has a moderate ankle sprain, we’re going to evaluate him on a week-to-week basis. [Kory] Lichtensteiger has a moderate calf strain, again, week-to-week. [Josh] Doctson went out to pregame warmup and could not push off the way he wanted to, his Achilles was too sore, so we’ve just got to continue to treat him and figure out the roots of the problem and try to get it fixed. DeSean Jackson aggravated his knee and ankle, came back and finished the game. And [Dashaun] Phillips has a hamstring strain. That is it.”

—Gruden said that the loss of a veteran leader like Hall was a big one. “It’s a lot. He’s a captain, you know? He’s coming along, playing a lot better and better at safety, so it’s pretty significant.”

—He tried to sell the 0-3 Browns as a big threat but he wasn’t very convincing. “It’s a tough opponent, very good coaching staff, and got a lot of work to do.”

—Kirk Cousins was pretty good according to the coach but they need to get touchdowns in the red zone. “We tried a quarterback draw one time and we missed the hole a little bit. Had a couple throws that were covered, just couldn’t get it done. Can’t put a finger on one person in that area. It’s not all on Kirk,”

—Going into it, Gruden was about as confident as a coach could be on the fake punt play in the third quarter. “We did it in practice and Tress Way has a great arm – very accurate. Coaching staff on the special teams side of it saw that it was a possibility. We practiced it. He caught it every time but the first day in the walkthrough.”

—A majority of those in the press box plus the TV broadcast crew all thought that David Bruton had made a spectacular interception when he ripped the ball away from Odell Beckham in the end zone. So did Gruden. “I’ve heard that everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy. I don’t know what the rule is. We just have got to live by it. I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball.” Gruden admitted that, like most of us, he doesn’t know what a catch is.

—The Redskins aren’t thinking about cranking out another winning streak like the one late last year that got them into the playoffs. “Yeah, I think the only thing you can do is… the ultimate clich√© is take it one game at a time. That’s the only thing can do. You can’t look ahead.”

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Why all options are on the table for Redskins' offensive line

Why all options are on the table for Redskins' offensive line

Facing multiple injuries, all options on table for Redskins O-line, including Trent Williams at guard.

For the second year in a row Redskins left guard Shawn Lauvao got injured playing against the New York Giants in Week 3. Lauvao's injury, combined with an injury to center Kory Lichtensteiger, left the Washington offensive line in disrepair. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that both offensive linemen are now on a week to week basis, and it sounds quite possible neither player will go next week against Cleveland. The coach called both injuries "moderate" - ankle sprain for Lauvao and calf strain for Lichtensteiger. 

The injuries mean the 'Skins are likely to bring in new linemen, particularly at center. 

"We're going to have to," Gruden said when asked about new help for the line. 

Once Lauvao and Lichtensteiger were injured in the Giants game, Gruden was forced to try an interesting combination. Veteran left tackle Trent Williams slid down to guard and Ty Nsekhe took over for Williams at tackle.

Importantly for the 'Skins, the results weren't bad.  

"He's so good at tackle but he actually played pretty darn good at guard," Gruden said of Williams. 

"He's a great athlete, probably be a good center too," the coach joked. 

MORE REDSKINS: NEXT MAN UP IS ROOKIE IN WASHINGTON

But Williams playing more guard should not be laughed at. The Redskins showed some of their best run game of the season late in the win against New York with Williams lined up next to Nsekhe.

Further, the coaching staff has repeatedly talked about how much they like Nsekhe as a tackle but that there was no spot for him with Williams and Morgan Moses healthy. As unusual as it sounds, with Williams at guard allows Nsekhe to get on the field at tackle. 

The Redskins do have another option in house: Arie Kouandjio. In his second year out of Alabama, Kouandjio has the size needed to play guard, but he is yet to be active on gameday this season and has been considered more of a development project than a player that is ready to roll. 

If Kouandjio is ready, he can play left guard and Williams stays in his normal spot at left tackle, protecting Kirk Cousins' blind side. 

"We'll just have to evaluate that situation and see how it goes, see how Arie does at left guard," Gruden said. "Ty is an excellent player, there's no question about it, but to move your Pro Bowl left tackle out of the mix to guard is something that's a little unique and hard to do."

Scot McCloughan made some strong moves last season bringing in players as injuries impacted the Redskins. Looks like the GM will again have that opportunity, this time on the offensive line.