Carroll County Times

Redskins Davis, Williams return from bans

ASHBURN, Va. - Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams are set to play for the first time since Dec. 4 in Thursday's preseason opener after they were suspended for the final four games of 2011 for failing multiple drug tests.

Asked if he's eager to face the Buffalo Bills, Williams chuckled and said, "More than you know, man. I get tired of blocking the same people every day."

Davis and Williams are tested two or three times a week and meet weekly with a counselor. If either tests positive this season, he'll be suspended for a year.

"They both know if they slip up, not only are they killing themselves, they're really hurting our football team," coach Mike Shanahan said. "They made a commitment to work out extremely hard [during the offseason] and I'm really proud of the way they've handled themselves."

Davis was having a career year with 59 catches for 796 yards before being suspended. Both figure to be key players for the Redskins. Former starting tight end Chris Cooley's effectiveness is questionable after two major injuries over the last three seasons, and Washington's offensive line is shaky.

Redskins captain London Fletcher believes the suspension had a positive effect on the 26-year-old Davis.

"Knowing that the game he loves was taken away from him, I can see a greater sense of focus and maturity," Fletcher said.

The 24-year-old Williams said he also got a new perspective on his football career.

"I just never fathomed not being able to play because of a mistake I made, not due to injury," said Williams, whom Shanahan made his first draft pick (fourth overall) after coming to Washington in 2010. "It's here today and it could be gone tomorrow. I want to be one of the best and you can't be the best on suspension."

Williams was supposed to be one of the NFL's best tackles by now, but the 6-foot-5, 325-pounder out of Oklahoma was inconsistent during his first two seasons.

"Any time you get humbled, you come back a little hungry," said Redskins center Will Montgomery. "Trent's having a great camp. He's seeing things a lot better than he did during his first two years."

Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo loves what he's seeing from Williams when they battle each other in practice.

"Trent's really improved his technique," Orakpo said. "He's playing at a very elite level. He's top three in the league for sure, right now. He's very athletic and he's very strong at the point. If you're thinking about running around the edge on him, it's impossible. You got to work something else."

While Williams has four years left on his six-year, $60 million contract, Davis is playing under the $5.446 million franchise tag, hoping a huge payday awaits next winter if he produces and stays clean.

"If you start thinking about money and the future, sometimes it doesn't happen the way you want it to happen," Davis said. "I just focus on playing at the same high level as I did last year."NOTES: RG Chris Chester, who suffered a mild sprained ankle during Monday's practice, didn't work on Tuesday and is unlikely to play at Buffalo. Fifth-round pick Adam Gettis would start in his place. ... LG Kory Lichtensteiger and RB Tim Hightower, both recovering from knee surgeries, won't play. Maurice Hurt and Evan Royster will fill in for them. .. TE Cooley, who was rested Tuesday, could start at FB for Darrel Young (hamstring). ... Tyler Polumbus will start for RT Jammal Brown (hip), who's on PUP. Holdover K Graham Gano will get the first shot ahead of free agent signee Neil Rackers.