Left tackle Trent Williams last week reported for his second Washington Redskins training camp noticeably trimmer, a result of a newfound dedication that manifested itself in the form of a seven-day-a-week training commitment.
But that’s not all that people at Redskins Park have noticed about the Oklahoma product, whom Washington drafted fourth overall with the intention that he become a cornerstone on their offensive line. Williams had an up-and-down rookie season, and often was able to make up for a lack of knowledge by using his athleticism. But this year the Redskins are expecting him to make significant strides in his development.
“It’s a big difference between your first year and second year,” Coach Mike Shanahan said. “You have an idea of the competition you’re going against, the speed of the game, the intensity within the division. There are a number of factors. He’ll go back and look at film from last year — the good, the bad and the ugly — and see how he can improve. But we’re looking forward to spending some time with Trent and notice the things he did poorly last year and what he needs to do to improve them.”
So far Williams, teammates and coaches say, has demonstrated an improved understanding of the offense and his responsibilities. On the field, everything is coming more quickly, and Williams is more decisive.
“It seems like in only three days, he’s sharpened up mentally with his responsibilities and snapcount,” said left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, who lines up next to Williams. “With him last year, lots of times, he was just a step behind and he had to use all of his athleticism to catch up to where everybody else was, which he could do, but if he starts out on a level playing field, he’s going to blow everybody away.”
In practice, Williams often draws the assignment of having to block Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo, who made the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons. Orakpo admitted that going against Williams is now more challenging.
‘The thing I noticed already this year, especially today after putting some shells on, is his point of attack,” Orakpo said Monday. “We all know Trent has great feet, but at times, he was using his feet but not really having that point of attack. Now, he’s sinking his hips and he has that strength under his but as well. Now, he is able to understand that power that most guys use in the NFC East. It’ll help tremendously, because you’ll notice that with us speed guys, we don’t always use that speed. Sometimes we’re like a bullet: We like to attack right now and get up under your chin. He had to get used to that. I like to do it all the time, and Osi Umenyiora [of the Giants] and all the guys in the NFC East like to do it, so I noticed so far that he’s being a lot more aggressive and a lot more powerful when he’s in contact.”
Williams agreed that he now has a better idea of what to expect this season, and he said that last year’s shortcomings fueled him in the offseason and continue to do so.
“I pushed myself this offseason harder than I have ever pushed myself,” said Williams, who lost 12 pounds over the offseason. “I had a sour taste in my mouth after last season, and I just wanted to get better. I wanted to come back a totally different player.”