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Williams Knows He Must Adjust Quickly to NFL


Trent Williams has four months to get ready.

Week 1. Dallas Cowboys.

Under the bright lights of FedExField, on national television.

DeMarcus Ware staring across at him.

This is as tough as it gets for any NFL offensive tackle, let alone a rookie.

Williams participated in his first mini-camp at Redskins Park, and the 6-5, 314-pound offensive tackle is projected to be the starter at left tackle. He is working with the first-team offensive line.

The fourth overall pick in last month's NFL Draft, Williams is tasked with protecting Donovan McNabb's blindside.

He knows he must adapt quickly to the NFL, all the while keeping an eye on his eventual matchup with Ware, the four-time Pro Bowler.

"I feel like I'm ready for it," Williams said. "There is going to be pressure anywhere you go. It's just a step up. I have to step my game up."

And the first step is adjusting to the speed of the game.

"I made adjustments, but it was still fast," he said. "I got better acquainted with it as I got more reps. I felt I did a lot better."

Said head coach Mike Shanahan: "It doesn't matter if you come in as the first pick of the draft or if you're the last pick of the first round, there's always pressure in that first-round draft choice. Hopefully he steps up and meets that challenge. I expect him to meet that challenge."

Along with the mini-camp, Williams is expected to attend Redskins OTA practices in May and early June. Off-season work culminates with a third and final mini-camp starting June 18.

During that time, Williams is tasked with working on his technique with offensive line coach Chris Foerster. That includes refining his footwork pre- and post-snap and polishing his hand placement as he blocks at the line of scrimmage.

"He just has to learn to play the NFL game," offensive line coach Chris Foerster said. "He has had a great background. The University of Oklahoma is a great place for guys to train and to build themselves as players. He did a nice job there.

"Every part of his game will have to be worked on. That is just part of becoming a professional football player and the challenges that come every week."

And there's also a mental adjustment that comes with transitioning to the NFL.

"There are guys [coming out of college] who develop a pro background from a terminology and offensive standpoint," Foerster said. "The types of defenses that [NFL] players play, there is a big adjustment and there is a learning curve.

"Whether it's Trent or any other guy, it is going to be a process. Trent being here for the first mini-camp, the OTA days and then getting to [training] camp on time--that's why it is so important."

Coaches feel confident that Williams has the skill set to thrive at left tackle, even though he played just one year at the position at Oklahoma. He played right tackle his first three years at Oklahoma before switching to the left side for his senior season.


Work ethic is going to be a key in Williams' development.

He has acknowledged that he needed a stronger work ethic while at Oklahoma. It was one of the criticisms levied at him by scouts prior to the draft.

"There's always room for change and always room to get better," Williams said. "I just kept that in mind and worked hard to get better."

During mini-camp, Williams' predecessor Chris Samuels was on hand to offer some guidance.

Samuels, who retired this offseason, knows a little about what Williams will experience in Week 1.

In 2000, Samuels was the Redskins' first-round draft pick, No. 3 overall, and in his first NFL start he had to square off against future Hall of Famer Reggie White, then with the Carolina Panthers.

Samuels is serving as a Redskins coaching intern this offseason and he can provide some guidance as Williams prepares for the league's top pass rushers.

"I talked to him directly after I got drafted," Williams said. "He just embraced me and told me he was there for me. He was going to be--in a sense--an O-line coach and that he was going to share his knowledge with me. I told him I was going to be like a sponge, soaking it up, ready to play."

Of course, all of the hard work in the months ahead still might not be enough to fully prepare Williams for the Cowboys' Ware, who has 64.5 career sacks in just five NFL seasons.

Williams promises his preparation won't be lacking.

"I have thought about playing against the best of the best since I was in college," he said. "Just seeing how I would fare against the next level of competition. I have been playing this game my whole life.

"I think I can adjust to anything. It's going to take hard work. It won't be easy, but I'm ready for it."

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