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Williams: Redskins’ only Pro Bowl pick is a warrior


ASHBURN, Va. — The massive gorilla tattoo on Trent Williams’ back prompted his “Silverback” nickname, but he might want to change it to “Warrior” the way that Washington Redskins’ left tackle has continued to fight through such a lost season.

Although the Redskins are out of the playoffs even before they host Dallas Sunday in their season finale, opposing teams and players recognize Williams is something special. Tuesday he was the only Washington player selected to the Pro Bowl. It is the third consecutive year he was so honored in his five-year career.

Last Saturday against Philadelphia, Williams was forced to the sideline during the second half for a second straight week when he re-injured his right shoulder. But with the Redskins locked in a tight game with their division rival, Williams refused to quit.

“It was a pretty tough hit right on the same spot,” Williams said. “I was in a lot of pain. I honestly thought my day was over, (but) the doctor did a great job of helping the pain subside a little bit, kind of massage(d) it and rub(bed) some stuff on there. My right arm was virtually dead the whole game, but that (treatment) kind of took it off life support. I figured, ‘I just fought for three quarters, I might as well finish it up.’ I was out there battling with one arm. The rest of the guys picked up my slack. My man (left guard Shawn Lauvao) kept a special lookout for me. I just fought it out with my good left arm.”

Williams was whipped for a sack by Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks early in the second quarter, but there’s no question that Washington’s struggling pass protection unit is better with him on the field.

“Sometimes when the guy’s this big and this talented, your expectations are so high that it’s impossible for somebody like that to live up to them,” said Redskins first-year coach Jay Gruden. “(Trent)’s so talented so when he does get beat, you figure, ‘Ah, he’s lazy’ or something’s wrong with him. He has gotten beat from time to time this year, but … great left tackles will get beat. It’s the toughest position to play — one of them — with the great pass rushers and the stunts and the blitzes they have to (block) out there on an island. But I think (Trent)’s delivered. We’re definitely happy to have him.”

The 26-year-old Oklahoma product is the latest in a line of stellar players who have manned one of the NFL’s most critical positions in Washington for most of the last 34 seasons. Three-time Hall of Fame semifinalist Joe Jacoby (four Pro Bowls, 1981-93) switched from left tackle to the right side after the acquisition of Jim Lachey (three Pro Bowls, 1988-94). Chris Samuels (six Pro Bowls, 2000-09) mentored Williams as a volunteer assistant offensive line coach in 2010.

“Trent can be one of the best ever if he keeps working hard and stays hungry,” Samuels said then, adding that Williams was more athletic than he was despite the then-rookie’s massive size.

Williams certainly displayed his hunger to play against the Eagles.

“Everyone in this locker room knew what I was going through (last week),” Williams said. “I looked like the walking dead walking around the locker room all week. A lot of them didn’t expect me to suit up.”

Williams, the first player drafted (fourth overall in 2010) during the regime of former coach Mike Shanahan, has battled knee, ankle and shoulder injuries while missing just one game even though Washington’s playoff hopes disappeared long ago.

It remains to be seen if the Redskins will have Williams for Sunday’s finale against the archrival Cowboys, but since his hometown of Longview, Texas is just 128 miles east of Dallas, he relishes these games. And since Williams has two extra days compared to last week to prepare for this battle.

“It’s a great tribute to Trent and what type of tough guy he is … when he does stuff like that,” Gruden said about his offensive captain returning for the fourth quarter against the Eagles. “He could barely lift his arm up and he’s out there continuing to battle. … If he can go (on Sunday), I’m sure he’ll go.”

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