Less than six months removed from the first major surgery in his life, Washington Redskins Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams is right on track to return to the field at training camp.
"I'm very close," Williams told reporters this week at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va. "I got the go ahead to do whatever I can. I'm obviously not being too aggressive on it, but I'm extremely close. I'll be ready before camp."
During the 2017 season, Williams played through knee injuries (including a dislocated knee cap) before being placed on Injured Reserve.
Even though the injuries limited him to just 10 appearances, Williams was named to his sixth straight Pro Bowl before being placed on Injured Reserve in December.
While Williams hasn't been able to participate in any sort of football drills since his last game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 9, a full offseason to get healthy will help him in the long run.
"It does a lot for me," Williams said. "I've been training, so football activities and working out and working on strength, running, all that stuff are totally different things. You don't really know how football is going to feel until you play football, but I'm pretty much back to doing everything I was doing before."
Williams, like fellow tackles Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe and T.J. Clemmings, spent the two days of Washington's minicamp this week rehabbing on the sidelines with the team's training staff.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said that Williams "came in here and has shown great progress, great strength," and that there should be no reason that the 2010 first-round pick won't be ready for a full return at training camp.
Once he is on the field, Williams will be protecting a new quarterback in three-time Pro Bowler Alex Smith, who was acquired this offseason in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Williams' first impression of Smith was that of someone who can lead the Redskins back to the postseason.
"He's a winner," Williams said. "You don't win as many games in this league without top talent. Obviously going No. 1 in the draft, he's been at the pinnacle of this sport for a long time. We're lucky to transition from one franchise quarterback and being able to not have any layoff to get another one.
"As you all know, you don't win in this league without a quarterback, so us being able to have one right now does everything for our team and in the faith we have to win."
Along with Smith at quarterback, Williams will also be creating running lanes for a new running back in rookie Derrius Guice.
Expected to go in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Washington was able to snatch up the LSU product late in the second round.
Williams believes that the 20-year-old could be a difference-maker for the offense this season as well.
"I'm just impressed with him," Williams said. "When you watch him on film, it's like he's been here before. He's a physical specimen. [We're] extremely lucky to get him in the second round. I don't know how that happened but we'll gladly take him. He has a home here and he's going to be a top running back for a long time to come and it's not going to take very long before people recognize him as an elite NFL talent, not just an elite college talent."