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With Job On the Line, Williams Shows Progress


You're nowhere until you're somewhere. And where are you when you're constantly on the move?

The emphasis on versatility and playing more than one position will be an important factor when the Redskins face the unenviable task of trimming their roster and Edwin Williams knows it.

The second-year offensive lineman, who made the practice squad last year as an undrafted free agent from Maryland, fought his way onto the active roster and played in four games, starting twice at right guard.

He will have to succeed not only at right guard but left guard and center – his college position – to continue with the club.

"I just want to make sure I do my part and I just have to keep getting better," says the 6-3, 317-pound pounder. "Sometimes it's kind of tough. Switching positions, you think you've got one position down and then they move you to another position and it's kind of like starting over in some ways. At the same time, I still have to execute and make plays and be consistent."

Along with his helmet and pads, Williams could use a GPS when he takes the field. He was at guard when camp began last week, at center over the weekend, at guard again this week, working with the second unit. On Wednesday and Thursday? Back to center.

"He's got to be able to play both," head coach Mike Shanahan says. "He's been playing both guard positions and center and he's got to be able to play both."

Williams' comfort level is highest at center. As a three-year starter for the Terps, he started his last 39 games, all at center. But his comfort level is not as important as that of the coaching staff.

"I have no specific preference but I did play center in college and it always feels good to be the leader and make the calls and kind of know everything that's going on," he says.

He continues to progress in every aspect, especially in understanding the game and the demands it imposes.

"He's got a lot of moxie, a lot of heart. He's very physical and he never backs down and that's what coaches look for in an athlete," linebacker Chris Wilson says. "He's a lot better from last year. I've even seen him read a few defenses pre-snap. He was strong when he got here, stronger than strong, but mentally he's better.

"This is a hard game with your job being on the line so you've got to be mentally strong there. I think he's taking it all in stride and having fun. I think he's going to be here a while."

Williams, five-year veteran Will Montgomery and third-year man Kory Lichtensteiger, a Redskins newcomer, all face the same test. How much can they do, how well can they do it, and at how many positions? When the Redskins must establish a 45-man active squad for regular-seasons games, they want as much flexibility as possible among the offensive linemen.

"If you're going to play guard in the National Football League, chances are you're going to have to play center," Shanahan says. "A lot of teams are going to dress seven or eight guys on game day. You come in with a tackle that can play left and right and a center/guard who can play all combinations. If you don't have that, you have to dress eight."

Dress eight and another position may go short, perhaps hurting special teams. Williams knows the numbers and the philosophy.

"It's cool," he says. "I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow or next week but they say the more you can do. …"

They do say that. Around here, they say it a lot.

Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at *** and follow him on **.*

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