The team had not previously addressed Williams’s medical issue at length, saying only that it was an operation done on Williams’s scalp and that Williams would be okay. One person close to Williams, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the surgery gave Williams “a scare.”
Gruden said Wednesday that he has talked to Williams but they did not discuss whether the player would return. When asked whether he thought Williams will be back, Gruden said, “I sure hope so.”
“Trent knows how much we want him back, and that’s the only thing I can do here,” Gruden said. “As far as what’s going on between him and the doctors is between him and the doctors.”
Tackle Morgan Moses, Williams’s close friend, implied that the tackle is using his power as one of the team’s best players to complain about the overall performance of the team’s medical staff.
“Obviously, it’s about time somebody like that stands up. It’s not just a situation here. It happens throughout the league,” Moses said. “To have one of our peers like Trent, a very valued guy on the field and off the field, to stand up like that, it means a lot to not just us as players but [to] the NFL as well. Obviously, his scare is one that you never want to have, but at the end of the day [he’s] got to take care of himself.”
Williams, who has dealt with several injuries in recent seasons and hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, has not spoken publicly about his concerns. On Tuesday, it appeared that Williams’s absence was related to his desire to renegotiate his contract. Gruden answered questions in response to an NFL Network report that Williams wanted a new deal by alluding to the “business side of pro football.” Williams has two seasons remaining on a five-year, $68 million deal.
A CBS Sports report Wednesday said that Williams’s frustration had left him wanting to be traded or released, but no teammates or coaches on Wednesday said they thought Williams actually wants to leave the team. Williams’s good friend Adrian Peterson, with whom he owns a gym in Houston, said he expects him to return for training camp.
"I’m not going to get into all that,” Peterson said. “But I expect him to be back, and I don’t see why that wouldn’t be the case.”
Williams is a key piece of an offense that hopes to lean heavily on its running game and will be breaking in a new starting quarterback this season, likely veteran Case Keenum or first-round rookie Dwayne Haskins. Williams has earned seven Pro Bowl invitations since being drafted in the first round by Washington in 2010 and is widely considered one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL.
“I know he’s frustrated. When you have a procedure done of that magnitude, you want to find out a reason for why it could have been done differently — or different timing,” Gruden said. “But our doctors are very good. I know they did the best they can. . . . At the end of the day, we want him back, the [coaching] staff wants him back, the players want him back.”
Barry Svrluga contributed to this report.