In anticipation of having to play without left tackle Trent Williams for the final four games of the season, Washington Redskins veteran backup Sean Locklear and rookie Willie Smith have begun prepping themselves to fill the void left by the former No. 4 overall pick.
Locklear spent the first seven seasons of his career primarily playing right tackle for the Seattle Seahawks, but did see some time at left tackle. He started two games at left tackle earlier this season when Williams missed time with a high ankle sprain, and said he feels comfortable stepping back in as a starter on the left side if coaches give him the nod.
“It was good. I’ve practiced there pretty much the whole season, so I’ve gotten a lot of reps over there,” said the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Locklear, who also started one game at right tackle in place of Jammal Brown earlier this year. “I feel comfortable over there. The more reps you get, the more comfortable you get. That’s part of the game. They signed me here to be a backup and to be ready to play. I’ve played a lot more than I’ve expected, but that’s why I’m here.”
If the Redskins don’t go with Locklear, Smith is another option.
The Redskins signed the 6-foot-6, 310-pounder during the offseason as an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina. He made the 53-man roster coming out of training camp, but has yet to appear in a game during the regular season.
Smith impressed coaches with his athleticism but needed to work on his agility and strength. He said he has treated this season just like he did his freshman year of college, when he red-shirted and spent the year improving his body and technique.
“I’ve just been preparing and preparing. It felt like red-shirting,” Smith said. “I’ve lost all the fat and gained muscle mass. So, I did everything I could do on my end, even though I wasn’t on the field.”
Smith said that although he hasn’t played since the preseason, he has gotten better, and feels confident he could start and be effective if called upon.
“Going in there week in and week out, practicing against [Brian Orakpo] and Ryan Kerrigan, going against those guys every week, makes me feel like, if I can block those guys in practice, the game is easier and I definitely can get it done,” Smith said. “I feel like I’m ready to go if they call me. … Just like any other position, we’ve got guys practicing there day in and out, waiting for their opportunity. This is what this league is about.”