Jay Gruden hinted Monday that he may have communicated with disgruntled star Trent Williams for the first time this summer. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Throughout this summer, Washington Redskins Coach Jay Gruden has deflected questions about Trent Williams’s holdout by saying he has not spoken to the disgruntled star left tackle. This week, though, Gruden’s response shifted.

When asked Monday whether he had talked to Williams in the past two weeks, Gruden replied, “Maybe.”

Pressed on whether the possible communication was a phone call or text message, Gruden again smiled.

“Texted, talked, maybe,” he said. “It is what it is right now. He’s not here, so we just got to talk about the people we have.”

Gruden’s response hardly amounts to ironclad proof that he and Williams have been communicating, but the sudden change in tone suggests that at least something might be happening between Williams and the Redskins after weeks of apparent silence. Gruden has said this summer that he expects Williams to return eventually.

Williams has not talked publicly about his holdout, leaving friends and associates to occasionally drop suggestions that he has lost trust in the franchise and its medical staff and doesn’t want to play for Washington anymore. People familiar with the Redskins’ thinking have said the team does not plan on trading him and will wait out the left tackle, hoping that an accumulation of fines will bring him back.

Washington’s third preseason game is Thursday night in Atlanta. Coaches usually like to use the third preseason game as the dress rehearsal for the season, playing their starters for most of the first half before resting them in the preseason’s final game, and Gruden has said he will play his regulars for a quarter and a half against the Falcons. He has not named a left tackle to start in Williams’s place, rotating between Geron Christian and former Pro Bowl tackle Donald Penn, who signed with the team in training camp.

“We’re preparing with the guys we have now. That’s all we can do,” Gruden said. “We’re getting Geron ready. We’re getting Penn ready. So we’ll go that route.”

One player who probably won’t play is running back Derrius Guice, who has yet to be cleared for contact as he recovers from the torn ACL he suffered last summer. Guice has practiced and even had a few plays where he has initiated contact with tacklers, but he has not played in any of the preseason games.

Wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr., who has a sore leg, returned to practice Monday, but his status for Thursday is uncertain. Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin has been practicing with a sore tailbone, but it’s also unknown if he will play in Atlanta. Defensive lineman Tim Settle has not been practicing because of a knee injury, and cornerback Adonis Alexander has been working in individual position drills but not with the team as he comes back from a leg injury.

Gruden said running back Shaun Wilson, who has been returning kicks and seemed to have an outside shot of making the team, has an ankle injury that will keep him out for some time. Wilson had to be carted to the locker room after a player rolled over his ankle in Thursday’s preseason game.

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The Redskins are still refusing to budge in Trent Williams standoff

Adrian Peterson addresses Trent Williams’s absence, endorses Colt McCoy in quarterback competition