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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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Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players who could make big impact

Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players who could make big impact

Much of the Redskins offseason has been focused on players like Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins, or the addition of guys like Terrelle Pryor and Zach Brown. Further down the roster, however, is where games are won. Here's a look at three players that will have the opportunity to make a big impact in 2017.

  1. Kendall Fuller - Let's be honest: the second-year Hokie had a tough rookie year. He started the season injured, and probably wasn't all the way up to speed when he began playing Week 4. Early on he produced at a good level for a rookie, but quickly, the league saw how to beat him. In a November game against the Vikings, Fuller repeatedly got beat on the inside by Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs. After that, the Redskins coaching staff looked elsewhere for a slot corner. 2017 is a new season, and Fuller will be a full year removed from his knee injury. He still has good vision and hips, an NFL pedigree, and should have the first crack at the slot corner role. If he can produce like many expected from him in 2015 - when he was an assumed first-round pick - Fuller could make a big difference for the Washington defense. Third round draft pick Fabian Moreau might also push for snaps at corner, once he gets healthy. 
  2. Stacy McGee - A new addition to the defense, McGee might be the answer Redskins fans want at nose tackle. Last season was by the far the best of McGee's career, and he emerged as a strong run stopper in Oakland. With his frame, and Jim Tomsula's coaching, McGee might play a big role this fall. His biggest hurdle? Staying healthy. In four seasons in the NFL, McGee has only played 16 games one season. Last year, he was limited to just nine games.
  3. Spencer Long - A free agent at the end of the season, Long comes in to 2017 looking to prove he can be a top tier center in the NFL. He excelled in pass blocking and calling the assignments on the Redskins line, but his run blocking could improve this fall. The literal centerpiece of a strong, young 'Skins line, 2017 will be a big opportunity for Long. Don't forget Washington moved up to draft Chase Roullier from Wyoming in the 6th round, and he played center and guard in college. Life in the NFL always has pressure, and Long will be facing some.

Always something on social: Enjoy the weekend folks.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Who will surprise, who will play NT

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Who will surprise, who will play NT

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 27, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

It’s been 146 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 106 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 17
—Training camp starts (7/27) 61
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 75

The Redskins week that was

Here are some of the most popular post from the last week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com

How well will the Redskins' defense adjust to six new starters? The Redskins unquestionably got an infusion of defensive talent but as we have seen in the past that does not guarantee better results. Throw a new defensive coordinator into the mix and it could take some time for this unit to reach its full potential. I think that there will be struggles early in the season and a better (but not dominant) unit by the time November rolls around.

Which Redskins will surprise in 2017? Every player carries expectations into the season. Some will be better than we believe right now (think of what many thought Vernon Davis would do last year) and some will play worse (Josh Doctson). I take out the crystal ball to figure out who will exceed expectations and who will fall below them.

Don't count out 3rd straight franchise tag for Cousins—Yes, Bruce Allen said that he is willing to franchise tag Kirk Cousins for a third time next year, a move that would cost $34 million for one season. But I think that’s a total bluff; the Redskins’ salary cap situation for 2018 would make such a move very difficult for them to pull off. The best hope for Cousins being a Redskin in 2018 is getting him signed to a long-term contract by July 15 of this year. The tone of the conversation regarding a new deal has been positive lately but the team must come up with a serious offer for a deal to happen.

For Redskins, finding a nose tackle needs to be a priority—Well, it’s up to Jim Tomsula to “make” a nose tackle. Phil Taylor is a true NT and he will get a shot. But he hasn’t played a snap since 2014. Undrafted free agent Ondre Pipkins also has nose tackle size at 6-3, 325. But he is a long shot, as are the Redskins’ chances of being significantly better against the run if they don’t find someone, anyone to be an adequate solution as the nose tackle.

Did Vernon Davis make the NFL change celebration rules? Although I prefer the John Riggins way of celebrating a touchdown—hand the ball to the referee because you’ve been in the end zone before and you expect to be back again soon—elaborate celebrations don’t bother me. After a TD in a game I’m covering I’m focused on writing about the scoring drive. When I’m watching at home, my attention goes to Twitter or to the refrigerator. I do think that it was dumb for the Redskins to lose 15 yards of field position because Vernon Davis put a jump shot over the crossbar so that’s why I’m glad that the NFL changed the celebration rules.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.