- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2016

ASHBURN — The locker room was much too loud after a Week 3 win, but Ricky Jean Francois looked left to see if he would be heard anyway.

Feeling the coast was clear, Jean Francois announced how good Trent Williams looked when playing left guard earlier that afternoon in New York against the Giants.

A few minutes prior, Williams, a Pro-Bowl left tackle, was explaining that he had never played guard before. When Ty Nsekhe came in from the sideline and pointed Williams over to guard, Williams was stunned. Williams wanted to debate the move with offensive line coach Bill Callahan. There was no discussion; just instruction to man the spot. So, Williams began plowing away without knowing the play calls for this position he was shoved into because of several injuries on the offensive line.

Beneath Wednesday’s downpour at Redskins Park, Williams was back outside at left tackle. Arie Kouandjio was playing left guard in the short portion of practice open to the media. Afterward, Williams was still amused about his dalliance with left guard — a spot he could be thrust into again — during a crucial game for the team.

“I would have rather been in training camp or practice sometime rather than a heated division game,” Williams said. “It’s something new I can add to my resume.”



Williams had never played guard before. He did play center in the 2009 Sun Bowl between Oklahoma and Stanford. That time he had multiple weeks to prepare for the change before the bowl game. He also did not have to make the calls at the line of scrimmage. Playing left guard Sunday against the Giants was a sudden and blind move, one that Williams would prefer to avoid in the future.

“I really just want to play left tackle, man,” Williams said with a laugh. “Be left out there in my own little world.”

Changes to the Redskins roster on Tuesday may make it easier for Williams stay outside, where he is one of the NFL’s best left tackles. Starting center Kory Lichtensteiger was placed on injured reserve because of a calf injury. So, the Redskins signed veteran John Sullivan following a quick workout. Sullivan was released by the Minnesota Vikings at the end of training camp after playing for them since he was drafted in 2008. He was such a long-tenured and vital part of the Vikings, the team’s general manager, Rick Spielman, took the time to distribute a statement of gratitude toward Sullivan when he was let go.

Sullivan missed all of 2015 because of a preseason back injury. He said Wednesday that his back feels better. After being contacted Monday, when the Redskins found out Lichtensteiger may be dealing with a long-term injury, Sullivan arrived at Redskins Park on Tuesday for a workout. He was quickly signed to a contract, then went right into meetings with offensive line coach Bill Callahan and his new teammates. Wednesday was his first practice. He expects to be ready to play by Sunday, when the Cleveland Browns come to the District.

“It feels like I’m back in training camp trying to learn an offense,” Sullivan said. “Spending a lot of time here at the facility and staying at hotel room near by. It’s a little bit different, but it’s exciting all the same.”

Spencer Long is the starting center in the interim. He filled in for Lichtensteiger against New York well enough that he will hold the spot again this week.

Kouandjio and Long are options at left guard, the latter only if Sullivan was up to speed. According to Redskins coach Jay Gruden, so is Williams.

“Yeah we’re looking at a lot of it,” Gruden said. “We have to prepare for all of it because you never know. You know, how we’re going to start the game yet is to be determined but it’s very tempting to move Trent [Williams] back inside and Ty [Nsekhe] at left tackle. It is a tempting deal. But Arie [Kouandjio]’s played a lot of snaps at guard. That’s what he’s played the whole training camp and OTAs and he’s ready to play guard, if need be, too. So, those are the options right there. And then [John] Sullivan’s a center and Spencer [Long]. You know, if Sullivan picks it up quick we move Spencer to guard if need be. A couple good options there. We’ll make that determination later.”

What appears clear is that Sunday’s starting left guard is unlikely to be Shawn Lauvao. After injuring his right ankle against the Giants in Week 3, Lauvao left the stadium in a walking boot. He did not practice Wednesday. Count Williams among those rooting for a rapid recovery.

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