RICHMOND, Va. — On the fourth day of Trent Williams’ holdout from Washington Redskins training camp, his teammate Morgan Moses came to a news conference wearing a Trent Williams No. 71 jersey. Reporters played along, pretending to ask Williams questions, with the right tackle answering as Williams. Finally, Moses turned serious.
“I miss him,” he said of the team’s star left tackle, whose absence is still unexplained.
Then, in one last attempt to keep the gag alive, he added: “Well, you see my ‘Most Wanted’ shirt wasn’t ready yet so I had to opt out for the jersey.”
After the laughter had died down, Moses — perhaps the lineman closest to Williams — was asked if he agreed with the sentiment of Washington Coach Jay Gruden, who has said he expects Williams to return. Moses nodded.
“I expect him to come back,” Moses said. “He loves football, just like every one of us does. I am pretty sure he wants to be here. Obviously, he has to figure out some things and [team executives] have to figure out some things. That’s above my pay grade. Once they figure that out he’ll be here.
“I have full confidence in the guy when he shows up,” Moses continued. “He’s going to be the best left tackle in the NFL, still. He’s going to be ready to play and he’s not going to miss a beat. It’s the same offense we’ve been running the last four or five years. That being said, the guy is an unbelievable talent in the NFL, man. There aren’t too many left tackles out there doing what he does every week.”
It’s still early in camp, but the Redskins clearly miss the player who has been picked for the Pro Bowl the past seven years. The team’s offensive line is already thin as starting center Chase Roullier and backup tackle Geron Christian have been held out of the first few days as they slowly work back from offseason surgeries, but Williams’s absence has left a hole that has yet to be filled. Former New York Giants first-round pick Ereck Flowers — signed in the offseason to be a guard — and ex-Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Corey Robinson, added this past weekend, have not been able to stop the constant pass rush in practice.
The Redskins may have one of the league’s better defenses, and against a pieced-together offensive line, the surge has been relentless. Quarterbacks are quickly surrounded and probably would be sacked in many cases if the defensive players were allowed to hit them. Williams’s absence has made it difficult to see which of the three quarterbacks battling to be the starter is really pulling ahead.
What remains unclear is how long Williams will hold out and why. When Williams missed minicamp in the spring, Gruden said the player was unhappy that the team’s medical staff was not quick enough to identify a growth on his head as a potential health problem. Williams had the growth removed in the offseason after a fear that it might have been cancerous.
CBS reported Sunday that Williams does not trust team president Bruce Allen or the medical staff and has told Redskins officials that he does not want to play for the team again, and the team’s vice president of communications, Tony Wyllie, called it “absolutely, 100 percent false.” No one close to Williams has confirmed that report. When asked Sunday whether Williams’s holdout was a contract issue or over deeper issues with the franchise, Moses shrugged.
“I really don’t know,” Moses said. “Obviously, I can talk to him and it can be one thing and then he said something else. I just know when he gets here, we’re going to welcome him with open arms. He’s our brother. We love him. When he gets here, we’ll rock out.”
His answer didn’t offer much insight into Williams’s thinking, though little has in the last several days as the Redskins star has remained silent.