Redskins expect Trent Williams to help the offensive line right away

By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 24, 2010; D03

As the Redskins formally welcomed a new offensive lineman into their organization, they also made clear their intention to retain discontented defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth.

"No, it's not going to happen . . . Albert Haynesworth will not be traded," Coach Mike Shanahan told the NFL Network on Friday.

That means both lines are coming into sharp focus: left tackle Trent Williams, the team's first-round draft pick Thursday night, will anchor the offensive line, and Haynesworth, whether he likes it or not, will play a role of some sort on the defensive line.

"We made a big investment in him," Shanahan said during an ESPN appearance. "Hopefully he comes in and does the things he needs to do to help us win."

The team's best chances of moving Haynesworth came in the hours leading up to Friday's second and third rounds of the draft. Rumors and speculation focused on them seeking a second-round pick and perhaps settling for a third-rounder. But as the draft resumed Friday night, no deal was in place and the most likely suitor, the Tennessee Titans, Haynesworth's former team, declared themselves out of the running.

"It's a dead issue. It is not happening," General Manager Mike Reinfeldt told The (Nashville) Tennessean. "From our perspective there is nothing [to the report] at all. I have not talked to the Redskins in a long time."

Without a single pick on the draft's second day, the Redskins focused their energies Friday on showing off their new prize: the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Williams, who will be charged with filling the left tackle position left vacant by Chris Samuels's retirement last month.

Chris Foerster, the team's new offensive line coach, met with reporters and laid out a revamped line that looks to provide Donovan McNabb with better protection than Jason Campbell received last season, when Campbell was sacked more than all but two other NFL quarterbacks.

Though Williams played only his final season at Oklahoma at left tackle and some analysts suggested he might need to start his professional career on the right side, Foerster said left tackle "is a natural position for him."

"He's a tremendous athlete. I'm trying to think back on the last guy I evaluated as a first-round back that ran under 4.9 [in the 40-yard dash]," he said. "4.88 was, I think, one of his average times. He's just a really, really good athlete."

Asked who his starting right tackle will be, Foerster noted that Artis Hicks, a free agent acquisition who played last season in Minnesota, closed the first minicamp holding down the spot. The team's starting offensive line as it enters its second minicamp looks to be: Williams, Derrick Dockery at left guard, Casey Rabach at center, Mike Williams at right guard and Hicks, which means that three of the five starters on the line will be new.

Foerster said coaches haven't yet discussed where Stephon Heyer, who's played both tackle positions in his three years with Washington and started all 16 games last season, might fit into the equation.

Foerster explained that as coaches evaluated the top offensive line prospects, Williams separated himself from the pack. Coaches especially liked his versatility.

"Sometimes you see a guy as an athlete and you look at him and you say, is he really this athletic or is it just because of the one position? . . . You see the guy playing right tackle, left tackle, center, you see him do it all," Foerster said. "You see, boy, the athleticism that you see at the combine and on the tape, it shows up in his ability to play other positions. It just verifies what you kind of knew about him as an athlete already."

While coaches have stockpiled versatile linemen, they still intend to have them focus on specific positions. The team signed Hicks because he had experience playing both guard and tackle, but Foerster said the team wants to see if Hicks can lock up the right tackle spot.

"I think Artis is a guy that when you put him in one position and let him play there, I think he'll do a fine job of developing to that position," Foerster said.

Foerster said the Redskins' scheme is a good system for linemen. "The one thing that linemen have to be willing to do is run," he said.

Williams should fit that mold. His sprint times at the combine blew away talent evaluators. Some of those same evaluators, though, expressed concerns about his strength. At the scouting combine, Williams bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times. Russell Okung, selected No. 6 by Seattle, lifted the same weight 38 times.

Some draft analysts have also expressed concern for Williams's work ethic, and at his introductory news conference, Williams acknowledged some lapses.

"I knew I hadn't given my 100 percent all in my first couple of years at Oklahoma," he said. "There is always room for change and always room to get better. I kept that in mind and worked hard to get better."

For his part, McNabb was thrilled to see Williams drafted.

"Nobody can appreciate the things that a blind-side tackle can do more than a quarterback," McNabb wrote on the Playmaker Mobile blog. "I was fortunate to play with two very good ones, Tra Thomas and Jason Peters, through my years in Philadelphia. Knowing that Trent had four years of starting experience at a big-time school such as Oklahoma will bode well for him. I can't wait for him to come to Washington and get after it."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company