- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 24, 2019

RICHMOND — It took nearly 12 minutes for coach Jay Gruden to be asked about Washington’s quarterback competition. That issue, usually the biggest story for any football team, was pushed to the backseat Wednesday, when the Redskins reported for training camp.

For now, the Redskins’ most pressing concern is the status of the missing Trent Williams.

The seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle, as expected, did not report to the Redskins on Wednesday over disputes related to his contract and the team’s diagnosis of a benign tumor on his scalp.

Gruden said he was focused on the players who are in Richmond, but added he expects Williams to show “sooner or later.”

“Right now, there’s somethings he has to workout individually, personally with his agent, professionally, whatever that may be,” Gruden said. “I don’t take anything personal in this business, for sure. I love Trent. I love what he’s done for this franchise and this team. But we expect him back soon.”



Williams has two years left on his contract and is set to make $11 million in 2019. But the 31-year-old is no longer the league’s highest-paid tackle, a distinction he held after signing a five-year, $68 million deal in 2015. Since then, four offensive linemen have signed bigger deals.

With a severe lack of roster depth at left tackle, Williams’ absence poses an serious threat to the Redskins’ hopes for this season. Gruden, however, said the Redskins will adjust.

Second-year man Christian Geron and veteran Ereck Flowers will fill in while Williams is away.

Gruden said he has not talked with Williams.

“We have to get guys ready to play,” Gruden said. “It’s no different whether he gets injured or what have you. … Somebody’s absence is someone else’s opportunity.”

Gruden said the Redskins are the healthiest they’ve been entering training camp during his tenure. While Washington has ended the each of last two seasons with more than 20 players on injured reserve, Gruden said the Redskins have “85, 86” healthy players at the moment.

Only three players — cornerback Danny Johnson (knee), linebacker Jordan Brailford (groin) and quarterback Alex Smith (leg) — opened Washington’s training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Running back Bryce Love, who tore his ACL in college, was also placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

The Redskins have other contributors like running back Derrius Guice (ACL) and quarterback Colt McCoy coming off injuries, but Gruden said he does not expect either to be limited when practice begins Thursday. Both had previously sat out Washington’s earlier offseason practices.

As for the quarterback competition, Gruden said McCoy, veteran Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins will each have an opportunity to win the starting job — with all three likely receiving the same amount of reps.

Gruden expects a lengthy battle.

“We have time,” Gruden said. “We intend on giving these guys ample opportunities. … It might come down to the wire. It might come down to the Saturday before the Philly game. Who knows?

“But I feel confident in every one of our quarterbacks.”

Whoever the Redskins entrust with the starting job could go a long way in setting the tone for the season. The NFL is always a must-win business, but even Gruden joked last month that if Washington doesn’t make the playoffs, he’ll likely be fired. The Redskins have missed the playoffs in three straight seasons. 

On Wednesday, Gruden didn’t back down from that assertion.

“This is the greatest coaching job in pro sports, really,” said Gruden, who is entering his sixth year. “And it’s an honor to be the head coach of the Redskins. With that comes great expectations and we haven’t lived up to them the last couple of years. Performance is king. … Understandably so, you have to win to keep your job and we have to get it turned around.”

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