Davis and Williams claim they’ve stopped the off-field behavior that relegated them to the sideline as the Redskins lost three of their final four to close another disappointing year. They both reported to camp in good shape and are clearly working hard.
The Redskins have bought in, players said Saturday after practice at Redskins Park. They quickly re-embraced Davis and Williams, and “nobody’s out here following them and checking up on them,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “We believe them.”
It all sounds great. Showing is always better than telling, however, especially if you’re facing your livelihood potentially going up in smoke. Davis and Williams are just beginning a long climb to regain credibility outside of the team’s training complex.
“That’s the way it is,” Davis said of the doubters. “You just got to prove [it has changed] when you . . . make good decisions.”
Anyone can make a mistake, and with access to pretty much anything they desire, young millionaire athletes (Davis is 26 and Williams is 24) are uniquely positioned to make colossal ones.
After they failed drug tests following last summer’s lockout, it’s hard to understand why Davis and Williams failed to make changes when they knew they would continue to be tested. That a second failure wasn’t enough to inspire a change is completely inexplicable.
“We made our mistakes,” Williams said. “That’s in the past.”
In order to keep it there, the initial encouraging steps Davis and Williams have taken must develop into impressive strides.
Williams, Coach Mike Shanahan’s first draft pick with the Redskins, was labeled as gifted but lazy during his college days at Oklahoma. During his first two seasons, Williams displayed flashes of the ability that prompted Shanahan to make him the cornerstone of rebuilding the team’s offensive line. But a longtime NFC East defensive assistant who has studied tape of Williams said he was “very inconsistent” last season.
Williams has hired a nutritionist and a personal trainer, a person close to him said recently, and for the first time he truly committed to a rigorous offseason program that also included about as much film study as a full-time movie reviewer.
“I just now feel like if this is the only thing I’m gonna do, I might as well do it to the best of my ability,” Williams said.
Williams and rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III have already become close (they’re often together during downtime after practice), and as he tries to restart his career, Williams feels a sense of responsibility to help Griffin.
“I never fathomed not being able to play due to a mistake that I made,” he said. “I ain’t gonna say it gave me a newfound respect [for doing his job], but it put things in perspective: It’s here today, and it could be gone tomorrow.”