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One-on-One With Mike Williams

The last thing I wanted to hear early on a Sunday morning was that Big Mike Williams was looking for me.

Williams has lost more than 70 pounds since he signed with the Skins in late April and is down about 100 pounds from his heaviest point, but he's still listed at 6-feet-7, 337 pounds. As you can tell from my picture, I enjoy a good meal, but I wouldn't stand a chance against him.

When Zack Bolno told me Williams wanted to have a few words in private about something I wrote here last week, I figured I should check with Tenecia to make sure we're current on my life insurance. During my 20 years in this business, I've had several closed-door sessions with team executives, coaches and athletes upset about my reporting, and you just never know how these things will end.

I knew what Williams wanted to discuss the moment Bolno mentioned his name. By now, everyone knows Williams is attempting a comeback after last appearing in a regular season game in 2005, and he's the feel-good story of camp because of his rapid weight loss and good-natured dealings with the media.

When the Skins signed Williams, they said he would be in contention for the starting right tackle spot if he could get his weight under control. But players have told me that Williams, who is well-liked around the complex, is not ready to challenge starter Stephon Heyer or backup Jeremy Bridges for their jobs. I wrote that it has been painful to watch Williams in pass protection and that, at this point, he does not belong on a football field in a competitive environment.

My point was that the front office put unrealistic expectations on Williams after such a long layoff. And it was definitely not my intention to embarrass Williams, whose determination has been impressive.

While the rest of the media folks surrounded Jim Zorn after the 8:30 practice, it was just Williams and me on the artificial practice field. Williams extended his hand to shake after I extended mine, which was a good sign, and then we got into it.

I explained my intention and the reporting process that went into what I wrote. Williams said he understood my point about expectations being ratcheted up after he signed, and acknowledged he had to come from further behind than other linemen.

"But fair or unfair, it doesn't matter, because there are a lot of things unfair in life," Williams said. "I don't look at it that way, I look at it like they've given me an opportunity. They need something from me and this is what I do. The only place I can get ready to do that is on the field. This is where I need to be."

Williams acknowledged he has had to refocus on his technique and footwork. Offensive line coach Joe Bugel tutors Williams during practice, "but that would have been the same thing if I played last year and came from another team," Williams said. "It's not because I haven't played [in three seasons], it's because Buges teaches it differently than this coach teaches it or that coach teaches it."

The longer we spoke the more I enjoyed the conversation. Williams came across well in group interview sessions earlier in camp, and he really is good when there are no cameras around. We spoke about the struggles of the offensive line against the defensive line and he made several good observations about what the unit must do to make steady progress for the Sept. 13 season opener against the Giants. By the time we finished, I understood Williams's position and I think he understood mine.

Regardless of the high expectations given his long layoff, rapid major weight loss and having to relearn technique, the road back has not been an easy one. "You think I wanted to get up at 6 a.m. to work out, work out again in the afternoon, do cardio by myself at 10 [p.m.] and come out here and have to work on my technique all over again? No, I didn't want to do that," Williams said. "But I wanted the opportunity they gave me, and that's what it took to get it. That's all that matters."

By Jason Reid  |  August 9, 2009; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: Orakpo's Exceeding Expectations

Comments

First

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 9, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I sure would like to see this guy succeed. Not even because it would be good for the team but because the guy seems to be a genuine guy that gets it.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 9, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I desperately want to take a #2 all over Danny and his pet, Vinny-the-boy-wonder.

What a couple of d0uche's.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | August 9, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Mike Williams - you're all heart kid...all heart...

Posted by: rich20ssu | August 9, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Having said that, way to go J. Reid for having the nuts to face the music for what you say instead of taking pot shots from the protection of your blog. No ax to grind is wonderfully refreshing.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 9, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

What this guy's doing must be commended, but as Reid points out it was way unrealistic to think he might compete for a starting job this year. Given a year on the practice squad and the same hunger (no pun intended), I think he could have an impact next season but if he's in the mix this year, we really are screwed

HAIL

Posted by: Notorious_LMG | August 9, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

What you wrote before was "you don't need to be a player, scout or coach to know he doesn't belong on a football field right now in a competitive environment."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/redskinsinsider/jason-reid/quick-take-on-mike-williams.html

It seemed to me like a gratuitous shot at the time, but it might also have been accurate. Here again, though, the Redskins coaches must think there's a chance that he will soon enough be competitive.

Today you write "he made several good observations about what the unit must do to make steady progress for the Sept. 13 season opener against the Giants." Why don't you share some of his good observations?

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Notorious--He's not eligible for the practice squad. If he doesn't make the regular season roster then he's out of the NFL for the year.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Now hopefully, you will just report on what the players say or do and not try to vision yourself as a coach making assessments. You have no idea what's being worked on, tweaked, or what the focus for that practice with that particular player is. If a guys gets beat just state that, but add on he's not ready professionally, etc, because you're not qualified to make such assessments.

Posted by: clark202 | August 9, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Definitely rooting for him. But ultimately, I will have completely forgotten about him by week 4 if he doesn't play well enough to get on the field.

Posted by: mikeyvanilli | August 9, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

From PFT:

Browns bring in Fred Weary
Posted by Mike Florio on August 9, 2009 12:44 PM ET
The Cleveland Browns have announced the acquisition of veteran offensive lineman Fred Weary.

Weary, one of the original members of the Houston Texans, was a third-round pick in 2002. He started 43 games and appeared in 63 from his rookie year through 2007.

Last August, he landed on injured reserve, missing the entire 2008 season.

Weary spent his entire career at right guard, the same position played throughout most of 2008 in Cleveland by Rex Hadnot.

----------------------------------

Here's another team that doesn't want Kendall in his camp when a starter goes down.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"Just report on what players say or do" misses the whole point of an insider blog.

We expect and hope Reid will relate his impressions, hunches, opinions, rumors, etc on these pages as long as he makes clear what is fact and what is opinion. In this case, if Mike Williams looks good in preseason or contributes significantly during the season we'll conclude Reid was off in his assessment. If Williams fades into the sunset (another 'good story' come and gone) we'll conclude Reid had a more realistic assessment than the coaches and Snyderato.

Posted by: boozyb | August 9, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

If the groin continues to bother him, maybe the best place for Williams is on the injured reserve to get him more time to scrape off all of the rust. His story is a good one, and you'd like to see good things happen for the guy: he has come so far. Still, he has a long way to go. It's unfair to the team to have him occupying a roster spot and taking reps from some other, more polished offensive tackle, if he is not going to be ready this season. Maybe putting him on the injured reserve would be the best thing.

Posted by: RedSkinHead | August 9, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

If the groin continues to bother him, maybe the best place for Williams is on the injured reserve to get him more time to scrape off all of the rust.

Posted by: RedSkinHead | August 9, 2009 2:30 PM

Then the Redskins would have to pay him for the year and he won't get to practice with the team and "scrape off the rust." I can't see this happening.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

from PFT

Reid hints at Runyan return
Posted by Mike Florio on August 9, 2009 1:53 PM ET
As former Eagles right tackle Jon Runyan continues to recover from microfracture knee surgery and as new Eagles right tackle Shawn Andrews continues to miss time due to a back injury that knocked out most of his 2008 season, coach Andy Reid has hinted that Runyan could be back.

"I know where he's at," Reid told the media on Sunday. "I saw him at the funeral service for [former defensive coordinator] Jim [Johnson] and talked to him there. We have a pretty good idea of where he's at and we'll just see how things go. He's working hard at getting back and that's really what his primary focus should be, whether it's here or somewhere else."

Reid also said that he doesn't know when Andrews will be back; however, Reid said Andrews is making progress.

As to Runyan, we're told that he's expected to be cleared medically within the next week.

It remains to be seen whether Runyan will be back for yet another season with the Eagles. Given some fairly significant changes that the team is facing on the defensive side of the ball, it makes sense to keep as many familiar faces as possible on offense.

Looks like Runyun might be available next week.

Posted by: frediefritz | August 9, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Now hopefully, you will just report on what the players say or do and not try to vision yourself as a coach making assessments."

Look up the definition of a blog.

The key word is "opinion." A blog is not by definition a news source, we just happen to get the quickest Redskins news from this blog. Jason Reid is doing a great job, his reads are accurate. Stephon Heyer is barely starter material and it's not inaccurate to say someone that can't even compete with him shouldn't be on the football field. Not yet.

Posted by: Keiser | August 9, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

... Why don't you share some of his good observations?

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 1:59 PM |

It would be pointless, at least with you. You wouldn't know what a good observation was if it bit you in the arse.

Posted by: StickShaker | August 9, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

StickShicker--Thanks for the feedback. I'll keep it in mind.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Here's another team that doesn't want Kendall in his camp when a starter goes down.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Dude.. They dont want Kendall, because Mangina is the coach over there.. Mangina had a falling out with him on the Jets

Posted by: Tyler84101 | August 9, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Afternoon practice is underway, under brutally hot conditions. Duh, it's summer in DMV.

Posted by: Cindy Boren | August 9, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Hey Keiser: Why do you think Heyer is "barely starter material"?

He won the Skins staring RT position last year and only lost it due to a four week shoulder injury. He also started the last four games at LT after Samuels went on IR with a torn triceps.

Jansen might have been a little better at good run blocking, however Heyer was much better in pass protection. It's Heyer's third season in the league, so he should be even better this year...

Posted by: siris | August 9, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Dude.. They dont want Kendall, because Mangina is the coach over there.. Mangina had a falling out with him on the Jets

Posted by: Tyler84101 | August 9, 2009 3:08 PM

They don't want Kendall because he can't practice. Kendall's falling out was not with Mangini but with the FO after the FO wouldn't pay him like they'd promised. Mangini was sorry to see him go.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

brutally hot conditions. Duh, it's summer in DMV.

Posted by: Cindy Boren | August 9, 2009 3:09 PM

Et tu, Cindy? Post can't let up with the negativity.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Here's another team that doesn't want Kendall in his camp when a starter goes down.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

agreed. Was Kendall there with any of the mangini staff that's now in Cleveland? That would be even more telling. Either way, Kendall is not the answer.

Posted by: AdamCr | August 9, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with everything JReid says, but it's night and day how much better the blog is this year. Refreshing.

Posted by: AdamCr | August 9, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Afternoon practice is underway, under brutally hot conditions. Duh, it's summer in DMV.

Posted by: Cindy Boren

Really? I'm in Myrtle Beach, SC. and our local high school team has been practicing for weeks now with no complaining. You think it's hot there? You have no idea. It's Virginia btw, not DC or Md. so cut the DMV nonsense please. We used to take pride in not being DC or MD., what happened?

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

It's pathetic the way the media coddles the Skins and the players. The Panthers work out in the heat as do the Dolphins, even the hated Cowboys, and I'd say they are doing just fine. These guys have been working out since grade school mostly so why all the fuss once they become professional and get paid?

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

It's pathetic the way the media coddles the Skins and the players. The Panthers work out in the heat as do the Dolphins, even the hated Cowboys, and I'd say they are doing just fine. These guys have been working out since grade school mostly so why all the fuss once they become professional and get paid?


Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 3:56 PM |

It seems to me all you do is b!tch and moan. Maybe it's just a misplaced perception but I don't recall ever hearing anything positive from you. Give it a rest, no one wants to hear your crying.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 9, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

no crying here scamp, just pointing out the lunacy. if u think it's crying maybe it's u? Last time I checked it's football, not ball room dancing. just saying.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

plus I congratulated Mike Williams for being the smartest dieter ever. Getting a professional team to pay you to work out is a stroke of pure genius in my opinion.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

No, it's pretty much whine, b!tch, moan. Come contribute or just go home and cry to whoever else will listen. Last I checked, Cindy isn't part of the team, I haven't heard them complain once.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 9, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I applaud both Mike Williams and Jason Reid for their candor and professionalism.

Williams is absolutely doing all of the right things, whether it will be enough to play pro-football. But I bet if he continues down his current path he will have added years to his life.

Jason Reid, thanks for sharing this story with us. Being humble never hurts and not everyone is going to agree with what you observe and report.

HTTR

Posted by: isnadd | August 9, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

plus I congratulated Mike Williams for being the smartest dieter ever. Getting a professional team to pay you to work out is a stroke of pure genius in my opinion.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 4:02 PM |

That's nothing but a veiled shot at someone else. Change your blog handle to Mr. Negative.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 9, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I was joking about the heat. I grew up in it and don't really mind it at all. I also believe there's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriately-dressed people.

Posted by: CindyBoren | August 9, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

scamp, u must be extremely small in stature as u have the most classic case of Napolean syndrome evah!

I didn't say the players complained(read again Napo) I wondered in print why the DC media coddles them so? M. Williams is smart, and the FO is dumb. Don't agree fine, but try finding many outside the beltway that would agree Napo.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Cindy's back with the positivity (and humor) that endear her to everyone!

Scamp -- 1965skinsfan=MyrtlebeachMike long time twisted blogger

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Et tu, Cindy? Post can't let up with the negativity.

Posted by: talent_evaluator

Names not mike, but thanks Talent.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse


plus I congratulated Mike Williams for being the smartest dieter ever. Getting a professional team to pay you to work out is a stroke of pure genius in my opinion.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 4:02 PM |
______________________________________________

They only get paid a few hundred dollars for the training camp through preseason, they don't get a regular salary until they make the team and the real games start. Not to mention he contract is for league minimum

Posted by: guinness4health | August 9, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Now hopefully, you will just report on what the players say or do and not try to vision yourself as a coach making assessments. You have no idea what's being worked on, tweaked, or what the focus for that practice with that particular player is. If a guys gets beat just state that, but add on he's not ready professionally, etc, because you're not qualified to make such assessments.

Posted by: clark202 | August 9, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse
----------------------------------------------
JReid is qualified to make such assessments as are all of us who follow the Skins. We pay them to do what they do and its our right to say what we feel about them. This is a blog, a place where the Washington Post pays him to observe and comment. Do you thing Mayor whether we agree or disagree its a different point of view than what Snyder and ESPN force feed us.

Posted by: murphyz | August 9, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention he contract is for league minimum

Posted by: guinness4health | August 9, 2009 4:47 PM

Well, the min in his league is much higher than the max in most leagues. Where I work the best pizza delivery guy -- a first round draft pick, with a top-notch agent -- doesn't bring in more than $85 a night, even with tips.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say the players complained(read again Napo) I wondered in print why the DC media coddles them so? M. Williams is smart, and the FO is dumb. Don't agree fine, but try finding many outside the beltway that would agree Napo.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 4:10 PM


Really?

I'm in Myrtle Beach, SC. and our local high school team has been practicing for weeks now with no complaining.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 3:51 PM |

Really? Here's your original comment which clearly compares one team to one of your local high school teams. Doesn't say anything about the media. And as for name calling, you got that one there buddy. It takes a very intelligent individual to call names. If your going to call names, at least come up with something good.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 9, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Why did the beep cross the road? (To avoid the collision between scamp and myrtlebeachmike).

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 9, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Really? I'm in Myrtle Beach, SC. and our local high school team has been practicing for weeks now with no complaining. You think it's hot there? You have no idea. It's Virginia btw, not DC or Md. so cut the DMV nonsense please. We used to take pride in not being DC or MD., what happened?

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 9, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse
-----------------------------------------------
We still take pride in not being DC or MD but its 2009 and the rest of the country knows us as DMV (thank you Wale). Im a die hard Virginian, even have a tattoo of the state on my back and I do have a hatred for MD (love DC though), the only reason I hate the state is because of Peter Angelos. The man is the reason my dad had to drive an hour to take me to one of the dirtiest cities in the country to watch a team that kept DC from having a baseball team. I've been in the Navy for about 10 years now, been around the entire world and there arent too many people who I've come across that could name a city in VA. So if people want to refer to VA (NoVA in particular) as the DMV its fine with me and Im sure its fine with most everyone else.

Posted by: murphyz | August 9, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm rooting for Mike Williams but I'm still chanting RUNYAN - RUNYAN - RUNYAN - RUNYAN!

Posted by: hailrskins | August 9, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

MyrtleBeachMike, just to make a meteorological pt, being further south (i.e. S.C.) doesn't necessarily mean hotter. Especially if you're on the coast (Myrtle Beach), the temp, esp the perceived temp, can be far cooler, given constant ocean breezes, than that of the stagnant, sauna-like conditions of the DMV (just for you - how bizarre to think VA is somehow more pride-worthy than MD or the District) area.

Why don't you just go cheer for the Panthers, like the rest of the 'suthun' inbreds?

Posted by: hogmeister | August 9, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Good work J Reid. Very fair reporting and glad to see this was handled like men.

Posted by: Eze167 | August 9, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

"It's not because I haven't played [in three seasons], it's because Buges teaches it differently than this coach teaches it or that coach teaches it."

(Technically that quote needs a semi-colon. It's comma spliced as is.)

Hrm, I don't recall another potential starter with a similar learning curve their first year under Bugel. Painful he's not facing facts; he's not ready.

@talent: Of course the Browns don't want Kendall as much as the Skins. And even the Skins don't want Kendall *now*. He's on the extended vet FA list for DC. If someone goes down week three, the team will want an immediate replacement. Kendall fits. Right now, the Skins and Browns, etc have time (they think) to grow somebody new. Kendall's worth more on the deep FA list than he is on the roster taking up practice reps. See Exhibit Ryan Boschetti (who somehow got in good with Al Davis this year).

Someone with arthritic knees deserves no practice reps; they'll be wasted on him. If you sign him, it's because you need someone to play *now*. That means during the season. And do you really think Pete will play worse in week 3 if he hasn't practiced now?

@RUNYAN RUNYAN -- Sheesh. HIS... KNEE... DOESN'T... WORK. He's not even medically cleared to practice last I checked. He hasn't played for the Skins, is in worse *game* shape than Kendall, and I don't know that he'd sign for the minimum.

Why not just tell 'em to sign Shar Pourdanesh. Good grief, man. He's dead, Jim.

Posted by: WorstSeat | August 10, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Meh, this blog isn't night and day anymore, it's like night and dusk. Jason strikes JLC's petulant tone more and more it seems.

I'M SO HAPPY to hear Mike called you out for your relentless cheap shots. I'm sick of them myself. Don't ever presume you know the first thing about playing O-line in the NFL. You're not a trained observer either. You don't have the expertise to correctly interpret everything you see on the field.

And finally but most importantly, realize that thing you write have an impact on people and that snarky, offhand comments are not going to facilitate the kind of rapport with the players you will need to succeed in this job.

Posted by: McMetal | August 10, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

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