For Trent Williams, preseason was prologue.
Now comes the true test.
On Sunday night at FedExField, Williams lines up across from DeMarcus Ware, one of the game's elite pass rushers. Ware has posted double-digit sacks in four of his five NFL seasons, including 20 in 2008.
This is as tough as it gets for a first NFL start.
Williams, the 6-5, 318-pounder out of Oklahoma, says he is both excited and nervous.
"I'm not trying to overwhelm myself," he said.
Williams is the new centerpiece of a rebuilt Redskins offensive line.
He was penciled in as the starter at left tackle almost immediately after the team selected him with the fourth overall pick in last April's NFL Draft.
It's a huge responsibility.
He protects the blind side of Donovan McNabb, the Redskins' other key off-season addition.
It's a responsibility he accepts.
"They drafted me for this," Williams said. "Everyone needs a great left tackle because the game has evolved with so many great pass rushers. You need somebody to neutralize them to give the quarterback a couple seconds to get the ball off."
In preseason, Williams was solid in the opener against the Buffalo Bills, struggled against Terrell Suggs and the Baltimore Ravens, and then rebounded with another solid effort against the New York Jets.
Suggs, one of the game's best pass-rushing linebackers, got by Williams twice and was able to sack McNabb once.
It was an experience that Williams will learn from as he prepares for Ware, McNabb said.
"Trent is a rookie and he's going to have some ups and downs," McNabb said. "This will be a good test for him. I think the good test for him that he could gauge himself from and learn what he needs to do is, he had an opportunity to go up against Terrell Suggs [in preseason].
"Suggs is a speed rusher who can get low and get under your pads and he has a mobile rush. That's something that DeMarcus does as well."
Williams, who played just one season at left tackle at Oklahoma, said he is staying focused on technique as he prepares for Ware.
He cannot match Ware's athleticism and experience, but he can stand his ground with the right footwork, hand placement and mobility.
"You can't rely on athletic ability given that he's 6-4 and 265 pounds and he's probably one of the most athletic big men in the game," Williams said. "So you have to fall back on technique."
Williams might get a little help from running backs and tight ends, particularly on passing downs.
Still, Williams is looking forward to seeing how he fares one-on-one against Ware.
He has eyed this matchup since last spring.
"It's a good gauge to find out where I'm at [as an NFL left tackle]," he said. "It would be a lot easier to start with somebody not as good, but it sets the stage."