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Mike Williams finds a home at right guard

Selected fourth overall in the 2002 draft, offensive lineman Mike Williams was considered a first-round bust as a tackle.

But lacking depth along the offensive line after repeatedly having failed to address the unit, the Redskins in April signed Williams, who was out of football in 2007 and '08 and had not played in a regular-season game since 2005.

After rapidly losing about 100 pounds, Williams made the team out of training camp. He struggled with edge rushers as a tackle and appeared to be among the weakest links of one of the league's least-effective lines.

With coaches searching for answers, Williams was moved to right guard, a position that had been unsettled since Randy Thomas suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2.

The staff wanted a bigger, more physical player at the position in an attempt to bolster the unproductive running game to that point. And the hope was that Williams, playing inside, would be a little better in pass protection.

Well, the experiment has been more successful than anyone could have envisioned. Williams has been very good at drive blocking on rushes and has fared better in helping to protect quarterback Jason Campbell.

"It's hard to move Big Mike out of there," Campbell said. "And when he gets moving, he's bringing a lot with him."

Williams's ability to quickly adjust to an unfamiliar position has spurred something of a career renaissance for him. In fact, Williams, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, could be part of the Redskins' plans for next season, which would not have been likely without the position change.

"It's been a good opportunity," Williams said. "I mean, I enjoy the position, and I'm glad people see I can be a very good guard. There's still a lot of stuff I need to learn, it's something new, but I feel I can get better at it and excel."

It is not surprising that Williams did not make the switch earlier in his career. Players capable of playing tackle generally are not moved to guard because top-flight tackles are among the most coveted players in the game.

"Here's the thing: I thought I was a good tackle," Williams said. "I mean, I was an All-American and a [high] draft choice and all of that. Why take a good tackle and move him in? They just don't do that."

The skills that helped Williams succeed in college and earlier in his NFL career at tackle have served him well at guard, he said.

"Don't get me wrong, moving to guard ... it's an adjustment," Williams said. "But our size helps. We take up a lot of space. A 350-pound guard is a big guard.

"And being that I played tackle for a lot of my career, my footwork is slightly different. I'm used to having quick feet for guys coming off the edge and changing directions. I used to facing those exceptional athletes."

Williams credited offensive line coach Joe Bugel with helping to make the transition as smooth as possible. "I've really liked working with Buges," he said. "I'm happy for the opportunity the Redskins gave me and to be able to get in there at two positions. I like to have that on my résumé."

From the Bog

Dan Steinberg has Joe Theismann and John Riggins on the Vinny Cerrato debate.

By Jason Reid  |  December 15, 2009; 12:36 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: Portis says he'll play again -- somewhere

Comments

2 top 2 round tackles and a good center would make this line dominant.

Posted by: Rypien11 | December 15, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Can he pull and run, or is he just a mauler? Either way, glad he's getting it done.

Posted by: edvar | December 15, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I had MW penciled in at RG in pre-season posts. It's not rocket science. An overweight and slow tackle is a guard.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | December 15, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

An offseason of building strength and learning the nuances of his position should help BMW become at least an above average starter at the position.

Posted by: TWISI | December 15, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Re-sign Levi move him to RT, Re-sign Campell, LoAlex, Rogers, Ganther, Mason. Sign a FS and a SLB. Draft a LT round 1, a speed back round 2, a center round 4, a tackle and WR late for depth and ARE replacement. Give CP training camp and preseason to see if he's healthy, if not cut him and role with Ganther, Mason, and the 2nd rounder. Simple and most effectively plugs the holes. Then start worrying about QB next year.

Posted by: zjfr2 | December 15, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"2 top 2 round tackles and a good center would make this line dominant."

I like the idea, but I don't see it happening.

Posted by: MistaMoe | December 15, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Here is London's competition for his first Pro Bowl

Patrick Willis 132 TOTAL 97 SOLO 35 AST 4.0 Sck 8 PASS DEF 2 INT 1 TDs 3 FF

Jon Beason 118 TOTAL 93 SOLO 25 AST 2.0 SACK 9 PASS DEF 3 INT 0 FF 2 FR

London Fletcher 118 TOTAL 76 SOLO 42 AST 2.0 SACKS 6 PASS DEF 1 INT 1 FF

Curtis Lofton 118 TOTAL 95 SOLO 23 AST 2 FF

Barrett Ruud 113 TOTAL 83 SOLO 30 AST 6 PASS DEF 1 INT 1 FF

I say he deserves it, however I also think this should be his 3rd or 4th trip. So as always he's no lock.

Posted by: Diesel44 | December 15, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Can he pull and run, or is he just a mauler? Either way, glad he's getting it done.

Posted by: edvar | December 15, 2009 1:04 PM

I'm not sure what all goes into pulling, but I think he should be able to pull. I saw him on a screen pass and he seemed nimble enough, and when found someone to block, he pancaked him.

Posted by: TWISI | December 15, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea, but I don't see it happening.

Posted by: MistaMoe |

Yeah Moe, there doesn't seem to be much out there in FA or in the draft in terms of centers. Might have to have rabach for another year.

Posted by: Rypien11 | December 15, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Call me a pessimist, but I'm going to avoid getting too high on this team going into next year UNLESS they win the next two games. Then I'll be willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

There's too much living-in-the-moment with sports, and that's to be expected to some degree, but it can be taken too far, i.e., Wilbon reportedly declaring that Fred Davis is better than Chris Cooley. WTF kind of nonsense is that? I love Fred Davis, and DT and MK, but come on. Cooley has produced for years; Davis has done it for a few weeks.

Suppose they drop the last three games (two of them at home against NFC East rivals)? Then what will people think of the roster and the coaching staff going into 2010?

Posted by: MrRedskin21 | December 15, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't mind Edwin Williams getting a shot at Center. That's what he played in College (MD).

Posted by: edvar | December 15, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Said this once, Ima say it again....


Suggested this WAYYYYYY back in July/August, or whenever he was signed.

I thought: Let 'em lose only about 50 pounds and stick his 400 pound ass in at right tackle and watch him straight up MAUL a bama in front of him.

Posted by: RedDMV | December 15, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Give CP training camp and preseason to see if he's healthy, if not cut him...

Posted by: zjfr2 | December 15, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse
------------------------

I think Portis cap figure is $7.2 mil next year, so I can't see him walking away from that kinda money, nor can I see Snydely throw that money out the window for nothing.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | December 15, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Can he pull and run, or is he just a mauler? Either way, glad he's getting it done.

Posted by: edvar | December 15, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I think we are going to find out soon. He's still learning. I know he isn't quick enough on his feet to block a speedy edge rusher but I bet he's quick enough to pull. I think maybe it's somethng they'll start working on him with. I'd wait to make sure his ankle trouble are over before trying that though. Could you imagine a 350 pound pulling guard? Geez, Portis may get his wish. If we get 2 tackles and Edwin takes over at center this may be the line running backs want to play behind.

Posted by: PAskinsfan17 | December 15, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"right guard"....

because anything else is just uncivilized.

Posted by: RedDMV | December 15, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

TWISI - a pulling guard has to be fast enough to get around the corner out in front of an RB, nimble enough to hit a smaller faster target like a LB or corner, and big enough to blast them out of the play.

A lot of the really big guards have trouble being fast enough to get around the corner in the fourth quarter, and being able to change direction if their target tries to dodge them.

Randy Thomas was really good at this, but I fear it is time he calls it a career.

Posted by: edvar | December 15, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Diesel44 | December 15, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I think you can add Keith Brooking to that list.

He's getting votes just by playing for the Cowboys.

Posted by: PortisPocketsStr8 | December 15, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Jon Beason has been holding Fletcher from the bowl bowl the last few seasons....

Jon Beason is NICE.

Posted by: RedDMV | December 15, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

beeps

Posted by: PortisPocketsStr8 | December 15, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Jon Beason is NICE.

Posted by: RedDMV | December 15, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

PFT is reporting that Jon Beason kicks puppies. Vote for London

Posted by: PAskinsfan17 | December 15, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I'm first.

Posted by: taylormade218 | December 15, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I heard the voting ends Monday, December 21st. Does that mean if London has a killer game on national TV it won't change anything for him re votes?

My biggest beef with the Pro Bowl is that voting ends before the season ends. It's a joke. If you're going to pick the best players by position, it should be over a 16-game season, not 14 games.

Anyways, Willis played well on MNF last night, so I'm sure that will help his voting.

Posted by: MrRedskin21 | December 15, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

rypien11

"..there doesn't seem to be much out there in FA or in the draft in terms of centers. Might have to have rabach for another year."

edvar

"Wouldn't mind Edwin Williams getting a shot at Center. That's what he played in College (MD)."


What about Rabach v. Rhinehart v. Williams?

We got options if M Williams is signed to play guard.

The vet playing for his life against two young'ns is the kind of embarassment of riches situation you kinda hope for.

Rhinehart will heal, rehab all spring, and realize the guard spot is taken.

Williams has had a taste of game day, shown promise, and is hungry enough to take what isn't his.

This is what makes teams stronger: good-natured competition.

Posted by: MistaMoe | December 15, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"Cooley has produced for years; Davis has done it for a few weeks."

Posted by: MrRedskin21

Portis has produced for years too and that hasn't stopped you from wanting him banished from Ashburn either.

Keep CC and Davis. Having Depth is not a bad thing.

Posted by: dcwun | December 15, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Andre Carter's competition

Jared Allen 40 TOTAL 33 SOLO 7 AST 12.5 SACKS 1 SAFETY 5 PASS DEF 1 INT 3 FF 2 FC 1 TD

Andre Carter 57 TOTAL 45 SOLO 12 AST 11.0 SACKS 3 FF

Will Smith 37 TOTAL 24 SOLO 13 AST 10.0 SACKS 4 PASS DEF 1 INT 3 FF

Trent Cole 48 TOTAL 39 SOLO 9 AST 9.5 SACKS 2 FF

Julius Peppers 35 TOTAL 29 SOLO 6 AST 8.5 SACKS 4 PASS DEF 1 INT 1 TD 5 FF

Darnell Dockett 46 TOTAL 37 SOLO 9 AST 7.0 SACKS 3 PASS DEF 1 INT

Ray Edwards 42 TOTAL 35 SOLO 7 AST 6.5 SACKS 1 FF 1 FR

Jared Allen is a lock and AC should be as well. AC has amassed a ton of tackles as well as sacks.

Posted by: Diesel44 | December 15, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Portis has produced for years too and that hasn't stopped you from wanting him banished from Ashburn either.

Keep CC and Davis. Having Depth is not a bad thing.

Posted by: dcwun | December 15, 2009 1:31 PM |
----------------------------

CP didn't produce this year, Cooley did.

Save your contrarian remarks for someone who's interested, meathead.

Posted by: MrRedskin21 | December 15, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

They were saying on 980 last night "do you realllly think mike williams is the answer at RG"? all sarcastic

i for one say yes!!!! mike williams=cheaper leonard davis,

Posted by: drewkinnear | December 15, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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