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Monday, November 30: Edwin Williams Reflects On His First Pro Start

Posted by Matt Terl on November 30, 2009 – 2:02 pm

This hasn’t been the greatest start to a week in Redskins history. To compound yesterday’s loss — which was disheartening enough in itself — came the news that rookie defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon suffered an ACL tear and is joining the growing list of players on injured reserve. And — later — that Chris Cooley has joined that list as well.

(The only guys who could be remotely happy today would be Alvin “Ace” Bowen, the Compliance Linebacker, who is expected to be signed to Jarmon’s spot on the active roster, and defensive end Rob Jackson, who takes Cooley’s spot.)

One guy who might have been happy is offensive lineman Edwin Williams. He’s the undrafted rookie out of Maryland who got his first NFL start yesterday, which is a pretty big deal. And to look at the stats and see that Jason Campbell was only sacked once, you might think that the offensive line had a good day today. Unfortunately, that number is more a testament to Campbell’s underrated elusiveness than to the offensive line keeping him clean.

“I thought Edwin did … okay,” head coach Jim Zorn said during his press conference today, and that ellipsis indicates a hesitation on his part, not missing words. He didn’t sound thrilled, to be honest, and immediately turned to discussing the possibility of Mike Williams getting the start next week against New Orleans.

This somewhat disappointing review would be hard on Edwin Williams, except that his own assessment of his performance wasn’t really much more favorable.

“I don’t know,” he told me. “I kinda felt like, by my personal standard, I didn’t play very well. Pass protection was a big issue for me. As far as going against [Eagles defensive end Mike] Patterson, and the power guys, I think I was fine. But the athletic guys, [Victor] Abiamiri and [Juqua] Parker … I just don’t think I fared well against them. They were beating me with a lot of quick inside moves, moves that I know I should’ve been prepared for [but] that I didn’t do well against.”

Even what should have been his most exciting play didn’t go the way he might’ve hoped. “The goal line play,” he said, “on Jason’s touchdown run, I was supposed to be the lead blocker. I tripped on Casey Rabach’s foot and couldn’t even get out there.”

Honestly, Williams’ candor was refreshing. It’s good to hear a blunt, honest assessment of what went wrong and what can be improved, but at the same time I wondered if this feeling didn’t blunt Williams’ confidence.

He seemed less concerned.

“It’s the difference between being optimistic and being realistic,” he said. “I mean, you can always think positive things. Like, once I got beat the first time, I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I suck and I’m not gonna do it.’ I was like, ‘Hey, man, next play, keep it goin’, he just got me that time.’ Havin’ that happen more than one or two times is kinda tough on you, but it’s the next play. You gotta have a short memory just like a quarterback when he throws a pick.”

And Williams knows exactly what he wants to improve heading into next week, should he get the chance to play again. “Pass protection, definitely,” he said. “Just trying to get my footwork right, making sure I listen to Casey. It’ll be a home game, so that’ll help me out a lot. Just gotta make sure of the little things, the fundamentals, and that’s what it always come down to, man.”

Williams was even straightforward and self-deprecating about the two offsides penalties he earned, refusing to blame crowd noise or any outside influence. “We were on a silent count,” he said. “It’s sometimes just kinda tough to hold your water.”

He joked — or half-joked, more accurately — that it was exciting to make his first start on the field with NFL players, and then joked that the most exciting part was playing next to fellow former Terp Stephon Heyer.

“Whatever,” Heyer said. “You’re like Jesus Shuttlesworth over at Maryland.” Referring to the highly-recruited basketball player from Spike Lee’s He Got Game.

Williams laughed. “People come up to me,” he said, “they’re like, ‘Didn’t you go to Maryland? So what are you doing NOW with your life?'”

Heyer was familiar with the reaction. “Right, then it’s, ‘I still play.’ ‘For who?'”

“Yeah,” Williams said, “‘Who do you play with now?'”

“They say, ‘You’re in the NFL?'” Heyer said, “and they do that face….”

“‘Yeah, right. No you don’t. Lies,'” Williams mimicked. “I get that all the time. People recognize me more that I play for Maryland and DeMatha than this team.”

I pointed out that Williams had only played in two games for the Redskins, and only started one of them, and Heyer agreed. “That is true,” he said. “I don’t get it as much as I used to. Back in the day, I got that ‘So what are you doing now?’ all the time. It slowed down after maybe a year or two.”

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