Listen to Mike Williams and you hear Eddie Brown.

"I'd be foolish to run away from my blockers, not let them do their thing," Williams said. "There is not one guy anywhere who can run through 11. But after my blockers do their thing, I do mine."

Like any rookie in a veteran-dominated training camp, Williams' first priority is to get himself noticed by the Redskins. He took large strides in that direction Friday against Green Bay; he will need many more to make certain he majored in the proper subject - football - in college.

Since they traded the popular and highly capable Brown to the Los Angeles Rams, the Redskins have been searching for a kick returner. Williams returned four punts 87 yards against the Packers - and Redskin watchers noticed he has a Brown-like flair for refusing to allow his feet to outrun his mind.

Unlike so many returners, Williams has enough discipline and sense to let his blockers clear some sort of path before turning on the after burners, to be quick but not to hurry.Brown would lose most 100-yard sprints, but would beat almost everyone carrying a football through the maze-like clutter of NFL headhunters and blockers.

Williams has similar instincts.

But the path to his locker at RFK Stadium still is a long one. To get there you go into the Redskin dressing room and then out, down the hall and turn left. This is where the marginal players reside, where the tape that identifies their lockers is not stuck too tightly, because it might soon be torn off.

One of the reasons Willaims lasted until the 11th round of the NFL, draft is that he looks ever so slightly upward at average-sized reporters. The nicest thing the Redskins could find to say about him in their fan guide is: "He's had real fine coaching and training."

That began early, because Williams grew up in an especially football-mad region of Texas, "where everybody wants to play, where you're used to hard work and you've got to battle yourself, because all humans tend to get lazy now and then."

Williams is candid enough to admit that he essentially majored in football at Texas A&M. And why not?

"That's what I'd chosen as my profession, my career. It gets under your skin. All I want to do is play more football. And then more football. Look at some of the guys here (he gestured toward the veterans' dressing room). It gets to be a way of life."

If Williams continues to average more than 20 yards on punt returns, the Redskins will find a spot for him on the roster. That is not likely to happen - and his chances of making the team hinge on his also being able to play cornerback better than he apparently has to date.

"The concentration in practice is not as good as it should be," he admits. "I've been making mistakes I shouldn't be making. The remedy is just to tighten down, to go after it a bit harder."

A player could be quite good and still be overshadowed at talent-laden A&M. But Redskin scout Mike Allman spied Williams, because Washington's draft position forces him to seek potential rather than obvious talent.

Now Williams is getting attention: he still needs some luck. At one point, Brown nearly was cut from the Redskins; it took an injury to Larry Jones before Brown got the chance to show his skills.

"In college, I was the upback lots of times, the guy who makes the fair catch when the punt is short." William said.

The A & M press guide for last season has Williams fielding 21 punts for 15 fewer return yards that he mustered against the Packers.

Which leads to the thought: maybe the Southwest Conference is tougher to run against than the Green Bay Packers these days. Somewhere, Vince going on down there?

Lombardi must be muttering very loudly. "What is farther back of the quality teams than last season.

Early evidence suggests the Pack is back - even Green Bay has an excellent chance to finish behind Tampa Bay this season, unless Chester Marcol's field-goal range suddenly improves to 75 yards.

The Redskins offered no clues about their regular-season chances that were not obvious before the Packer game - except that the return game apparently will not crumble without Brown. Still, Williams' fine showing guarantees nothing beyond another chance.


Such is life for 11th-round draft choices.

"But I see an open position," he said.