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|ASHBURN Patrice Bergeron Jersey , Va. (AP) — The first surgery of Trent Williams‘ life put more fear into him than any pass-rusher on a football field.
“I was scared,” Williams said. “I was terrified.”
Not much terrifies the Washington Redskins‘ star left tackle, though this was different. Now eight months removed from major surgery on his right knee, Williams is ready to get back on the field when the Redskins open the season at the Arizona Cardinals and already looks like the player he was before the debilitating injury.
“He looks amazing,” coach Jay Gruden said this week. “We just have to make sure we take care of him, get him right. Physically, I think for the game, he’s in great football shape. He’s always been in great football shape but I expect him to be Trent Williams, the best left tackle in football.”
Williams has gotten that kind of praise from Tampa Bay defensive end Gerald McCoy and others around the NFL and earned respect for playing through countless injuries. His six games missed last season were more than he sat out for injury combined over the previous five seasons.
This knee injury was so bad it forced Williams not to play and affected his mindset.
“It was difficult to have to — I’m not going say give up — but basically have to go ahead and I guess bow down out of the battle,” Williams said. “I just more so felt defeated because I had tried so hard to continue to work through.”
Williams was so determined to gut it out he played games even when Washington was eliminated from playoff contention. The sight of his name on the injured reserve list for the first time in his career was the wakeup call he needed to finally go under the knife.
That happened Dec. 29: a medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction by way of a tibial tubercle osteotomy Zach Werenski Jersey , which involved breaking his tibia bone and realigning it with the knee joint. Every doctor he saw told him he was underestimating how major it was.
“I was,” Williams said. “Maybe I was in denial. I did underestimate how intense it was and how hard the recovery was going to be.”
Eight weeks of being unable to get around without crutches or assistance followed. Williams spent months building the strength back up on both legs, got eased back into practices and still had a hurdle to overcome that’s common to players coming off knee surgery.
“Trent came in and he did drills with us in OTAs and to me he looked quicker and faster than he had been before,” running back Chris Thompson said. “But then when you get out here and bodies start flying, people start coming towards you full-speed, mentally you’re just like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I’m ready yet.'”
Williams took limited snaps in the preseason as the team preferred a cautious approach to getting Williams to Week 1. As he built up his workload through training camp, teammates saw glimpses of Williams at his best.
“He hasn’t lost his step,” right tackle Morgan Moses said. “The guy obviously is an incredible athlete. He runs like a deer. He runs like a guy that’s supposed to be playing slot receiver.”
Williams is still dealing with scar tissue and managing internal expectations. But now he can put his weight on his right leg without the burden of worrying about what’ll happen next.
“It’s a relief because at the time I was playing and putting other ligaments and other parts of my body at major risk and I knew the risk I was taking prior to doing so Sam Gagner Jersey ,” he said. “When you’re competing and you’re a competitor, all that stuff kind of falls to the wayside. You throw caution out the window. But it feels great knowing I’m not bowing out anymore.”
The Winnipeg Jets will be looking to continue their mastery of Atlantic Division opponents Tuesday when they play the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.
The Jets, who clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs March 25, are 9-3-3 against the Atlantic Division this season after their 6-5 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday at Canadian Tire Centre.
Winnipeg has won eight straight games against the Atlantic Division and is riding a 10-game point streak (8-0-2) that dates to Dec. 7.
The Jets (49-20-10) will close out a four-game road trip against the Canadiens before returning home to complete their regular-season schedule against the Calgary Flames (Thursday) and the Chicago Blackhawks (Saturday).
Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler, who had two goals against Ottawa, leads the Jets with 37 points (10 goals, 27 assists) in 31 games against the Eastern Conference this season.
The Jets will be looking to clean up a messy performance against the Senators that saw them lead 3-0 before the game was 12 minutes old only to see the Senators keep clawing back into the game.
The Senators took advantage of a six-on-three advantage (they pulled goaltender Craig Anderson for another attacker) to get a power-play goal from Matt Duchene with 1:05 left in the third to make it 6-5.
“A six-on-three, that’s the first one I’ve seen in the NHL,” Wheeler said. “That’s obviously difficult. Luckily, we had a two-goal lead.”
Winnipeg forward Andrew Copp chipped in a goal and an assist and said hanging on for the win will help the Jets down the stretch.
“It was a good start for us Dustin Brown Jersey , but we probably didn’t stay on it as much as we wanted to,” Copp said. “We didn’t stay as engaged as we needed to. It was kind of a ping-pong game almost, not a lot of clean plays made, a lot of sloppiness, but it was huge that we can find a way to win those games, too.”
The Canadiens are closing the home portion of their 2017-18 schedule and go into the game against the Jets with an 18-14-8 record at Bell Centre.
If Canadiens goaltender Carey Price gets the start, he will set a franchise record by playing in his 557th game. Price tied legend Jacques Plante in Montreal’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday with 556 appearances in the Canadiens’ legendary red, white and blue sweater.
“I’m a little disappointed with the loss, but I’m definitely proud of reaching that level,” Price told the Montreal Gazette. “It’s a legendary name and to be spoken of in the same breath is pretty cool.”
“It’s quite a feat Patrick Roy Jersey ,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien told The Gazette. “He’s been here for a long time and played a lot of games, and I think the players were extremely proud and probably disappointed we couldn’t win that important game for him. Nonetheless, they gave their best.”
One of the bright spots in this lost season for the Canadiens has been the play of rookie defenseman Noah Juulsen, who will play his 21st NHL game against the Jets.
Juulsen, who turned 21 Monday, was the No. 26 pick in the 2015 draft. The stay-at-home defenseman has topped 20 minutes in ice time in two of his past three games, including 20:22 against the Devils with 6:28 on the penalty kill.
“At this time of year, we’re looking to evaluate more than we’re looking necessarily to win the game,” Julien said. “We want our guys to benefit from that. (Juulsen’s) doing a good job at that. We have a lot of young guys who are gaining some valuable experience from this tough stretch we’re going through. It’s going to pay off down the road.”
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