“Obviously, as a player, you always want to grow and be better than before,” Williams said. “I noticed that when I first got to the NFL, my life changed so dramatically overnight that football was kind of hard to focus on. And after my rookie season, I had to sit down with myself and just take a time out, and realize that football is what got me in this situation, and if this is all I’m going to do, this is what I’m going to be known for, I have to do it to the best of my ability, and try to be the best at my position.”
Williams added: “I think it was both [on the field and off the field]. The last year deal was an off-the-field issue. On the field, I did play pretty well. In the locker room, I was always [vocal]. I was voted team captain last year. But, I had some decisions to make in my personal life, some habits I had to break.”
The Washington Post’s Matt Rennie, Dan Steinberg and LaVar Arrington debate whether the Redskins are more likely to earn a postseason berth by winning the NFC East or by earning a wild card.
The Post Sports Live crew offers bold predictions for the Redskins game Monday night against hte NFC East-leading New York Giants.
In addition to staying on the straight and narrow, Williams increased his role as a team leader and has played more consistently than ever before. He also has taught himself how to play effectively despite injuries.
Four games into the season when a bruised knee made it impossible for Williams to practice all week, he suited up and fared well against Tampa Bay, helping Washington to victory. The same injury had forced him to miss two games in each of the two previous seasons, but this year, Williams wouldn’t be sidelined.
On Thanksgiving Day against Dallas, already plagued by the sprained ankle, Williams took a knee to the thigh on the first series and visibly labored onto the field and from the huddle to the line of scrimmage. Williams said he played at “about 60 percent,” but he didn’t surrender a sack all game.
“I knew he was quite sore,” Shanahan said. “You could see just from the way he was trotting out to the field that it was really bothering him, but he wasn’t going to come out. He was going to stay out there and be a captain and fight through it.”
The need remains this week. With five games left, and Washington in the thick of the wild-card race, the team has virtually no margin for error.
So Williams finds himself in yet another pressure situation. He’s not complaining, however. His journey might have been less eventful, and possibly smoother, had it gone at a more gradual pace. But the trials – on and off the field – have molded him.
“It definitely was a lot of pressure, but no, I wouldn’t change anything,” he said. “To much is given, much is expected. I thank God for that position, because it helped me learn a lot. And I definitely, definitely don’t take anything for granted now, especially with what happened last season.”