Entering his eighth NFL season, Washington Redskins tackle Trent Williams continues to build on what he hopes is a legacy that extends well beyond his playing days.
As a top-five pick, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and No. 47 on NFL's Top 100 Players list, Washington Redskins Trent Williams has proven to be one of the best players in the NFL over the last seven years.
This offseason, with aspirations to build on his NFL success to date, Williams decided to alter his offseason approach slightly.
In a quest to "be a better Trent overall," Williams worked independently to prepare for the season. His absence from OTAs incited questions, but the veteran explained that the team can only profit from his personal progress.
"You know, it's one of those decisions just it's kind of tough because you're away from your teammates and you don't really get to be there when you welcome all the new people onto the team and what not," Williams said on "Redskins Nation" recently. "But it's one of those things where you got to realize that the best version of me is best for the team, so if what I do [independently] makes me, continues to propel me to be a better me, then I got to do what I got to do because at the end of the day the team benefits from it."
"I can work out [independently] for three to four hours and just get lost in the gym," Williams continued, "and here [at the Redskins' facilities] you got a certain timeframe where everybody, you know, coaches got to be hands-off and everybody got to be out of the building and the work that you put in on a personal level is a little more extensive than what you can do as a group. Not everybody is on the same condition level when they come in so it's a little more vague, and me, I can be as aggressive as I want."
Williams was able to train with intensity at his facility in Houston, Texas, during his time away from the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., but he still kept an eye on how his teammates were doing.
"I watched every play of OTAs on my iPad at home," Williams said. "That's the good thing about technology now, I was an eye in the sky, so it wasn't like I wasn't somewhere under a rock. So I knew everything coming in, I knew who was playing what and how everybody was playing and I told coach that I think this was one of the sharpest OTAs that I've seen. Usually, when people get back on the field and get back to work, it's kind of sloppy to begin with because everybody has rust, but for some reason everything looked like a well-oiled machine, it was sharp… everybody is looking good."
While Williams praised the team's offseason performance, he sought out individualized instruction. At the offensive lineman's level of play, practice exercises become increasingly specific and refined. Assistant head coach/offensive line coach Bill Callahan explained that with Williams' skill, his practice approach is tailored to the player.
"He's challenged a little bit differently from the other players because he is a talented guy," Callahan said. "He does see the greatest defensive ends in the league. He's got to have a repertoire of techniques and strikes and moves and throws that he can change up so he's not giving somebody the same move all the time."
"It's like a great pitcher," Callahan explained. "They have the fast ball, but they have to learn how to throw the slider and the controller curve better and get into some pitches—it's really similar to that."
Hoping to surpass the average career length of his baseball counterparts, Williams plans on doubling his present professional tenure.
"I'm 28, [I will] be 29 at the end of July, so you know, going on my eight year," Williams said. "I feel great and I'm healthy so Lord willing hopefully this can be the midway point in my career and I continue to improve and try to get some longevity out of this thing…"
Though Williams aims for career endurance, he prioritizes his quality of play. With the sole incentive of lasting success, he aspires to leave an impact on the game.
"I just want to be the best," Williams said. "I want to be known as one of the best [who] ever played the position, so I'm not driven by money or anything. I'm driven by the ability I have to leave a legacy; not everybody who laces up a pair of cleats has what it takes to go down as one of the best to play their position, and I think the good Lord has blessed me with a lot of physical talents and a lot of physical ability to play this game, so I don't want to take it for granted. I want to squeeze every drop of juice out of this fruit. Hopefully, I can do something special."