Fourth-year pro Keiland Williams came away from his performance in Saturday night’s 30-7 Redskins win over the Buffalo Bills encouraged as he battles for a roster spot as a backup running back and special teams contributor.
Williams carried eight times for 52 yards and a touchdown. He recorded a team-best average of 6.5 yards a carry and had a long of 23 yards.
“The key is going out there and competing. Competing for a spot,” Williams said. “It’s getting to be that time and cuts are going to be made, and you realize that, too. Each year, you want to go out there and put the best thing on tape that you possibly can.”
Williams is in his second stint with the Redskins. He joined the team as an undrafted free agent as a rookie out of LSU in 2010 and that season served primarily as Washington’s third-down back. Williams got cut the following preseason, but signed with Detroit. The Redskins brought Williams back for the second half of last season when he became available again, but he played exclusively on special teams.
Williams entered this past offseason with the goal of re-establishing himself himself as a running back, and aims to earn a spot in a position group led by workhorse Alfred Morris. Roy Helu Jr. appears to have the leg up on the competition for the role of change-of-pace back, and Williams is competing with Evan Royster and rookies Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison for possibly one remaining spot.
In three preseason games, Williams has 18 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Williams said it took him a bit to get re-acclimate himself to Washington’s zone-blocking scheme, but this offseason and training camp practices enabled him to re-discover the patience and rhythm that he needs to excel in the system.
“Game and practice reps [have helped],” he said. “I just appreciate the coaches for giving me that opportunity, not only in the games, but also in practice. If you get more reps, you feel comfortable and if you feel comfortable, you feel confident.”
Asked what makes him unique, he said, “Not only being able to come in and play on third downs and pick up blitzes, but I feel like I’m effective in the running game as well. I feel like I can be a good running back in situational football.”
Another factor that could give Williams the edge is his ability to play on special teams, where he is a member of all four units.
“I just have to do well on them, not just being on them, but being successful as well,” he said. “I feel like it’s going good.”