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Edwin Williams Keeps On Working

Posted by Matt Terl on August 7, 2009 – 12:34 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in with Edwin Williams, the undrafted center out of Maryland. But whatever he’s been doing in the meantime, it’s certainly been working.

Offensive line coach Joe Bugel, talking to the media the other day, had good things to say about Williams. “I like Edwin Williams,” he said. “Over the summer he did a great job of weightlifting and … I’ll tell you what, he’s a smart kid. He comprehends a lot between what’s good and what’s bad. I think in the long range he’s going to be a good football player.”

And that may very well be, in the long range. At the moment, though, he’s a rookie. And when I caught up with him the other day, he was doing the traditional rookie task of carrying other people’s helmets. I was tempted to pester him with questions while he was lugging four helmets and an extra set of pads, but instead waited while he dropped them off in the locker room.

Still, the first question I asked was about the helmets.

“I had Dockery’s, Stephon’s, I want to say Jeremy Bridges’s. I think it was Jeremy, anyhow — I had three. And I had Stephon’s pads, and of course mine.”

Is that as bad as its gotten as far for hazing?

Williams: “Yeah, pretty much. I don’t think that’s a negative in my perspective. It’s a little tough because of the situation we’re in [on the offensive line], we only have two rookies. So they’re going to give us the burden. It just comes with the territory, it’s fine. It’s not like they beat me up or anything.”
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Edwin Williams Climbs The Ladder

Posted by Matt Terl on June 2, 2009 – 5:01 pm

If there is one sportswriting device that I’ve really grown to dislike over the years, it’s the extrapolation from the way a player performs one unrelated activity to the way he handles his sports career as a whole. Here’s a completely fabricated example of the kind of thing I’m talking about:

Brett Favre does not mow his lawn in neat rows like you or me or your next-door neighbor. No, he rides his mower in haphazard patterns, zig-zagging from one corner to the other, sometimes stopping for three days as if he’s done before changing mowers and starting again. It’s the way he mows his lawn, it’s the way he plays the game … and it’s the way he lives his life. It may look crazy to you, but as I sit behind Brett on this rumbling John Deere, it all starts to make a certain kind of sense.

That kind of thing. I find it contrived at best, insanely overwrought and pointless at worst.

And yet it’s all I could think of when I found undrafted rookie center Edwin Williams doing the rope ladder climb at Six Flags last night. The game is simple, like all good carnival games: climb the shaky rope ladder to the second-to-last rung, ring the bell, and win the big Redskins bear. And, like all good carnival games, the barker can do it again and again and again as if it’s the easiest thing on Earth, while the marks fail and fail again.

As with any failure, there are two ways to view it: each time, you’re a little closer to the time you’re going to succeed; or each time, it just goes to prove that the barkers know a trick that you don’t. Read more »

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Thursday, May 7: Even More On Edwin Williams

Posted by Matt Terl on May 7, 2009 – 9:18 am

I’ve been talking to undrafted free agent center Edwin Williams about his ongoing experience moving to the NFL from from the University of Maryland. We’ve been focusing mostly on the on-the-field and immediately-off-field aspects of his life, and there’s a bit more of that below — a brief post-minicamp wrap-up.

But Washington Post Maryland beat reporter Steve Yanda profiles a very different element of Williams’s life in a recent profile: his struggles growing up as a born addict, the child of two cocaine addicts. An excerpt:

Those who raised Williams during his formative years — the period in which his parents traveled up and down the East Coast in search of cocaine — take his perceived ignorance as an affirmation of their diligence. Williams’s grandparents, aunts and older sister shielded him as best they could. Had the family taken any other approach, he likely would not have graduated from the University of Maryland in 2008 with one season of eligibility left as an offensive lineman on the school’s football team. The chances of him being signed by the Washington Redskins as a 6-foot-3, 315-pound undrafted rookie would have been equally slim.

“We beat it into his head,” Cheron Williams said. “You don’t want to end up like your mom and dad. You don’t want to end up like your mom and dad. You don’t want to end up like your mom and dad.”

It’s a really excellent read, even if you think you’ve heard the story — or one just like it — before. Meanwhile, on the much less serious side of things, I talked to Williams as he prepared to leave the facility after the minicamp and got his thoughts on how things went and what it was like suiting up for the team he’s rooted for his whole life.

“Everything went well,” he said. “There’s just some things I need to polish up in my fundamentals and my technique. Their technique is not the same that I learned, so it’s gonna be some extra effort on my part in the upcoming days, weeks, and months to get that down.” Read more »

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Saturday, May 2: Edwin Williams On His First Practice With The Redskins

Posted by Matt Terl on May 2, 2009 – 9:50 am

With something like 120 guys in for the first minicamp, it’s easy for certain positions or players to get lost in the shuffle. So one of the things I’m following is the progress of center Edwin Williams, an undrafted free agent out of Maryland.

I had already spoken to him after the first day of physicals and headshots, and I caught up with him again yesterday before lunch, just after his rainy first practice wearing number 50 in the burgundy and gold.

So? One practice in the books. How’d it go?

Williams: “It wasn’t too bad. I got more reps than I expected — that’s obviously a positive thing. Still getting the technique down. Nowhere near where I need to be or where I want to be, but as far as a first day I think it was very productive.”

What is it out there that lets you know if you’re doing well? Especially with the pass rush coming at half-speed….

Williams: “Well, it’s all about effort, man. That’s what it is when you get to this level. Everybody’s talented, everbody has the necessary tools, so it’s about effort. I just try to use the enthusiasm that I’ve had, you know, my whole football career, and just try to be a cut above everybody else, try to execute with the most technique in the best position I can. That’s all I can do.”

Has the rest of the offensive line been welcoming to the new guys?

Williams: “Mostly, yeah, they definitely are, but it’s still that, you know, freshman/senior type thing. But they’re very welcoming, they’re not hazing or anything like that. Of course, this is the first day that I’ve met ’em, so I really don’t know what’s in store.”
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Friday, May 1: Meet Edwin Williams

Posted by Matt Terl on May 1, 2009 – 9:11 am

This is Edwin Williams, undrafted free agent center out of Maryland, set to take the practice field today as one of the newest members of your Washington Redskins.

With minicamp finally here, I thought it might be interesting to focus on one undrafted guy as he goes through the NFL experience for the first time, from his arrival yesterday through … whatever happens next. As I reviewed the list of undrafted free agents Williams seemed like a good choice for a few reasons:

First, he plays what might be a position of need: center. It is beyond unlikely — just short of impossible, actuallly — that an undrafted guy could unseat starting center Casey Rabach, nor would anyone here want him to. But there’s no firm backup at the position, which creates a perfect opportunity for Williams. He was a three-year starter at Maryland

Second, he’s a local guy — grew up in D.C. and attended DeMatha before heading around the Beltway to College Park — and that always adds intrigue to a prospect.

And third, since he was a two-time Academic All-ACC guy and had all sort of favorable comments about his attitude and leadership in his pre-draft scouting reports, I figured he’d be the kind of guy who had given some thought to his situation and what he needed to do to make the most of it.

That last one turned out to be an understatment — when I talked to him late yesterday, it almost felt as if he was directly responding to his scouting report. Here’s what they had to say about his draft prospects on NFLDraftScout.com:

On a line that was inconsistent for most of 2008, Williams was one of the more dependable starters. He should be one of the first centers taken, though because that position tends to be less desirable than other spots on the line, he may be a later pick than he’d like.

And here’s what Williams said on the subject yesterday: “I was very optimistic but also very realistic. Because, you know, centers don’t really get drafted a lot — last year I think they drafted four centers. I kinda glanced at the draft, but I didn’t really watch it. I’m not really about — I feel like there’s so much hype around it, but you’ve really just got to come in and do your thing.

“So I didn’t really watch too much,” he continued, “but then I would hear through the grapevine that centers were getting picked up, so at that point I was getting a little more optimistic. But at the end of the day, I didn’t get drafted. At the same time, now I have a great opportunity with the Redskins, a lot of teams told me that they wanted me, and now I’m here ready to get started.

“The draft thing was cool, you know? That was a good weekend. But now it’s time to do the real work.”

So why did you choose the Redskins? Read more »

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