Damien Williams Opting Back In

After worrying he might not get another chance when he opted out last year, Damien Williams is all smiles fitting in with a new team and new group of running backs.

Former Kansas City running back Damien Williams has been conspicuous at Bears organized team activities for more than his jersey No. 8.

It really does look odd seeing a running back with this jersey number, but get used to it during this season in the NFL.

Williams is standing out as a solid all-purpose fit in the backfield and potential contributor a year after the Bears were extremely thin at running back.

"For Damien, what we really liked about him was his versatility as a running back and as well out of the backfield, the things he can do," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "He's very well rounded. It's just a really good fit for our running back room.

"I was not with Damien in Kansas City, but the coaches that were there spoke really well of him and said really good things. And so Damien's come in here like a true pro and just digested everything that we're doing."

Williams should digest what the Bears are doing, since he came from the same style offense in Kansas City. It was part of the reason he signed in free agency with Chicago after opting out last season due to the pandemic.

"I could say a lot of things, but really just to sum it all down, sitting out a year and then coming back, I really didn't want to learn a whole new system, different things like that," Williams said. "So coming here and kind of having the same system, same plays, it was easy for me.

"And then meeting the coaches, meeting everybody in the building, it was just easy for me."

What wasn't easy for Williams was sitting out last season after nearly earning Super Bowl MVP. He had two touchdowns in Kansas City's Super Bowl win after the 2019 season and ran for 104 yards in the game, but Patrick Mahomes was named MVP.

While sidelined all year, he pondered whether this would count as a strike against him.

"Of course that crosses your mind," he said. "You're thinking 'oh man.' You're sitting at home you're missing a year out. That affects you at the end of the day just because you're not out there doing the reps, putting the time in.

"But that's when you sit at home and really grind, when no one's watching. That's when you want to work the hardest, so coming back was really easy."

The anxiety hung around a while.

"Oh man, that whole year," he said. "At first I did it for my mom. Everybody understood why I did it. But once you got to the season and watching, me personally, I'm sitting at home like (thinking) 'I hope the season doesn't go all the way through, especially with the COVID thing and then I won't feel like I missed too much.' "

Returning now in Chicago has him fitting in well not just because of the system but also because he enjoys the other personalities in the locker room.

"I feel like one of the rookie kids," he said. "(On the) first day back, new guy in the building—I'm just embracing it."

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