Five weeks ago, Trent Williams could barely walk – let alone protect his quarterback's blind side.
Early in the Redskins' Nov. 16 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField, Williams got tangled up with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, whose 295-pound frame landed squarely on the left tackle's right leg.
The immediate prognosis for Williams wasn't great: a sprained right MCL and ankle. Either on their own are a pain, but the combination made for a treacherous couple weeks for the 6-foot-5, 337-pound Oklahoma product.
Still in pain, Williams had to sit out the next week's game against San Francisco 49ers before enough was enough: he *had *to get back on the field. By Nov. 27 – just 11 days after suffering the injury – Williams was labeled a full participant at practice as the Redskins prepared for last Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
He ended up playing the entire game.
"I'm a competitor," Williams said. "I love to compete. It killed me watching the game from the sideline [against the 49ers] so I felt there was a little hope I could play and go out there and be effective, so I took that chance."
That warrior mentality has earned Williams the respect of not only his teammates and coaches at Redskins Park, but those around the NFL, as well.
On Tuesday, the league announced that Williams will go to the Pro Bowl for a third-consecutive season.
The annual contest of the league's best will take place Jan. 25 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
"It's extremely humbling to know that your hard work and dedication pays off again and that people around the league – my peers – recognize my efforts and continue to vote me as one of the league's best." Williams said.
Asked this week to give his evaluation of Williams' performance in his first year as the Redskins' head coach, Jay Gruden said he felt the Oklahoma product has "delivered."
"I think he has been very solid," Gruden said. "Obviously he should get Pro Bowl consideration, but we're definitely happy to have him, and I think he's had a good solid year."
In other Redskins-related Pro Bowl news Tuesday, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and running back Alfred Morris were selected as alternates.
A 'giant of a man'Gruden has said he continues to be amazed by Williams, who last season was voted by his teammates as the Redskins' Bobby Mitchell Offensive Player of the Year after starting all 16 games for a second-consecutive season.
Williams in 2013 joined Chris Samuels, Jim Lachey and Joe Jacoby as the only Redskins tackles to make consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.
Always the ultimate wordsmith, Redskins head coach Gruden labeled Williams as "a giant of a man, plus he's got the feet of a ballerina."
"So that is genetics right there at its finest," Gruden said.
Williams doesn't take his role as one of the game's preeminent left tackles lightly. Earlier this season, as he conducted a press conference with his daughter, Makayla, by his side, Williams explained how being a left tackle and a father bring about similar traits.
Redskins left tackle Trent Williams was named the 60th-best player in the NFL in the NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2014." Take a trip back through Williams' career with the Redskins.
"Yeah, I guess you could say that," Williams said with a laugh. "I'm protective by nature, obviously."
To keep in tip-top shape – and to have a better shot at quickly returning from various injuries – Williams works out in the offseason in Houston with trainer James Cooper, who has also worked with Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Williams said his offseason goal with Cooper wasn't to lose weight, but to "put the right type of weight on."
"It kind of looks like I lost it, but I didn't," he said. "I just did my same regimen, just training in Houston with the same group of guys I've been training with for the last three years. I didn't have any nagging injuries going into it, so I was able to give it 100 percent."
Cooper told The Washington Post that Williams can produce results similar to those he outweighs by at least 100 pounds.
"He's exploding pretty high," Cooper said. "I've got a lot of linemen, and they don't want to run 200s and 300-meter sprints. And Trent gets out there and he runs the 300-meter sprints, he runs the 200s, the 150s. And I push him at a pretty fast pace. He's a pretty fast guy for his size already, pretty nimble, but it's because he really works on it. Like I tell him, just because you're big doesn't mean you have to play slow. You should be able to play as quick as the lightest guy — that should be the goal."
That's all in a day's work for Trent Williams.
"I don't think there is anything Trent can't do," Gruden said. "Trent's a special player. He's one of the guys that when you watch practice film, he is the first guy I usually watch. He's fun to watch. He's got great feet. He's athletic. He's strong. He's taken over the offensive line. He is a leader. People all look up to him."
Pro Bowl factsHere's a few nuggets from Williams' 2014 Pro Bowl selection, courtesy of Redskins Public Relations:
- Williams' selection is the third of his career and his third consecutive selection since 2012. His selection this season is the 16th by a Redskins offensive tackle since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, joining Chris Samuels (2001-02, 05-08), Jim Lachey (1990-91), Mark May (1988) and Joe Jacoby (1983-86)
- Between Williams and Samuels, Redskins left tackles have been selected to seven of the last 10 Pro Bowls.
- Williams joins Samuels and Jacoby as the only Redskins tackles to make three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl since the merger.
- With Williams' selection this year, the Redskins have had at least one Pro Bowl player for 21 straight seasons. The only year Washington has not had a Pro Bowler in team history was 1993.