The spotlight is on.
The Redskins announced prior to today's Week 12 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers that left tackle Trent Williams, who sprained his right MCL and ankle last week, will be on the inactive list, giving rookie Morgan Moses – the team's third-round pick out of Virginia – his first-career professional start.
Asked last week if Moses would be up to the challenge of starting if Williams was unable to go, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said he thought Moses "will be ready for it."
"Just from a one-on-one standpoint, Morgan is long and I think he will do a good job and compete in that regard," Gruden said. "But he has got to do a good job in the run game also, getting up on the right people."
Moses was thrown into the fire last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Williams was injured after getting tangled with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on Washington's second drive of the game.
Williams said the rookie performed admirably in the first major action of his career.
"I think Morgan did a great job," the Pro Bowl left tackle said. "To be thrown into the fire like that, really no warning, I think he responded well."
After a week of practices with the first-team offense, Gruden said Moses faces a tall task against a talented 49ers defensive front that includes the likes of All-Pro outside linebacker Aldon Smith – one of the better pass rushers in the league.
"Their edge pressure's been good all year long and they've got three or four guys that can get there, so his technique has got to be sound," the first-year head coach said. "They do a great job with the stunts also that have given us trouble and then of course the blitz recognition, he has got to do a good job with that."
Moses said he's looking forward to the challenge of going one-on-one against a guy like Smith.
"He's a dynamic player," Moses said. "Having guys like Trent [Williams] and Tyler [Polumbus] who've played against him in previous years to help me feel him out during film study, it's just one of those things where you got to hit the film and look at him through the games that he has played, this past game and some games last year just to study him."
Offensive coordinator Sean McVay said there's plenty that can be done schematically to help Moses gain confidence against the 49ers.
"There's always things that you can do protection-wise whether it's putting a guy in a nudge position and giving him some chip help or changing that launch and giving him some quicker throws," McVay said Friday. "Coach Gruden does a good job having that arsenal in his offense and we'll adjust accordingly on Sunday."
More than anything, Gruden said he's looking forward to seeing Moses unleash his inner-animal today on the road in his first-career start.
"He is a very calm kid, he's very laid back," Gruden said. "Hopefully he gets up a little bit more; he is going to have to. It's going to be a great challenge for him whoever comes off that side."