After two seasons of ups and downs, Williams now is displaying the Pro Bowl-caliber form that Mike Shanahan expected when he kicked off his tenure as Redskins coach by using the fourth overall pick of the 2010 draft to select him.
In one-on-one drills with two-time Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo, second-year outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan or backups Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson, also talented pass-rushers, Williams has repeatedly gotten the better of them.
Using his athleticism, he stays in front of his defenders. With his impressive strength, he initiates contact, and overpowers them.
In live action, Williams also has done well, finding ways to fend off Orakpo in a variety of ways more times than not. Everything has slowed down for Williams, he says. Now, he fully feels like a veteran.
“I feel more comfortable with the game in and of itself. I’m older, I’m learning more. I’m still a young guy, but your third year in, you’re considered a vet. I feel like it,” Williams said on Thursday. “It’s just slowed down, period. It feels like college again for me. I’m sure of my assignments, I’m sure every snap. It makes it easier for me to handle my business.”
Williams is coming off of a season that ended on both a frustrating embarrassing note. He failed multiple drug tests and was suspended for four games. He had to watch his teammates slog through the home stretch of a 5-11 season.
Williams says he used those emotions, and the wakeup call he received to fuel him this offseason. He trained with MMA personal trainer James Cooper in Houston for a second straight offseason, but applied himself even more this year. As the one-on-one drills have shown, Williams is now stronger and quicker.
On Wednesday, after handily winning his matchups with both Orakpo and Jackson, Williams took on Wilson and flipped him into the air and tossed him to the ground.
“I’m just a competitor, man,” Williams said. “One-on-one’s it’s mano-a-mano, all eyes on you, just you and him. You ain’t gotta worry about nothing but you and him, that particular snap. I compete. I hate losing.”
Williams is eager for the actual games to begin and embraces the responsibility of protecting Robert Griffin III’s blindside. Williams said his aim is “to play at a Pro Bowl level all year long,” but that’s not his ultimate goal.
“You can’t control the Pro Bowl. I want to win and keep my quarterback clean. I just want to be dominant,” Williams said.
Not having played since Dec. 4, Williams said he’s even looking forward to Thursday’s preseason opener at Buffalo.
“More than you know, man,” he said.
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