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Williams Exceeding Expectations at Center

Veteran Connor Williams has made a smooth transition after switching positions this season

The conversation about the Miami Dolphins offensive line that everybody heard the past three seasons has changed drastically in 2022.

The once-much-maligned position group actually has become an asset for the Dolphins offense in its breakout performance, and a lot of the focus has been on veteran left Terron Armstead and what he's brought to the group after arriving as a free agent from the New Orleans Saints.

But we also shouldn't undervalue the impact of fellow newcomer Connor Williams, who not only had to adjust to a new team but to a new position.

And if switching Williams to center after signing him as a free agent after four years as a starting guard with the Dallas Cowboys seemed like a gamble in the offseason, it sure doesn't look that way now.

On the contrary, the move looks like a rousing success.

DOLPHINS COULDN'T BE HAPPIER WITH WILLIAMS

Even offensive coordinator Frank Smith thinks the move has worked out better than could have been hoped.

"I mean, we couldn't be happier with what he's done," Smith said when the Dolphins returned to work from their bye. "I mean, and I know that he's always striving to improve himself for what he's doing. It's just been so awesome to watch a guy, a veteran, take on a challenge and really do it at a level that's really exceeding our expectations, because we always thought he was gonna be good at it, but it's like really in the last month, you're seeing him to be able to take the next step in his play."

The offensive line is coming off its finest performance of the season in the 39-17 victory against Cleveland in Week 10, with the Dolphins rushing for 195 yards and amassing 491 total yards.

For the third time in his four games back from his concussion, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa wasn't sacked.

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The only two hiccups by the offensive line, really, were a false-start penalty by left guard Robert Jones and a high shotgun snap by Williams that forced Tagovailoa to fall on the ball for a 6-yard loss (it did not go as a sack).

Shotgun snaps were a bit of an issue for Williams in training camp, but not a problem during the regular season. In fact, there haven't been many problems with his play, period.

WILLIAMS ENJOYING HIS NEW POSITION

And considering he's part of one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, it's not surprising that Williams is enjoying his new position. Then again, it's also maybe not surprising that Williams had made a smooth transition, considering he moved to guard in the NFL after playing left tackle at the University of Texas.

The idea of using Williams at center instead of guard came after he had signed as a free agent once the Dolphins coaches took inventory of their offensive line players.

"I'm loving it," he said. "I think it's been a great, great transition. It's been obviously a week-by-week progress. And I like what I'm putting out there right now, but obviously so many things to continue to improve on and grow from and, and build off of. Obviously, going into a new position at a professional level is tough. And so just taking that as straight as I can and, and learning as much as I can and absorb as much as I can, and just being able to do the best I can ultimately for the team and not be a weak point for us.

"The coaching staff has done a great job with me just letting me get the feel for it myself and given me the free rein to feel it out all throughout camp, and so just getting confident then, and then after the first game, it was OK, obviously things to improve on, but this is something I can definitely do and play at a high level and felt great moving from then on."

Williams and right guard Robert Hunt are the two offensive linemen who have started every game this season for the Dolphins, who have used Armstead and Greg Little at left tackle, Liam Eichenberg and Robert Jones at left guard, and Austin Jackson, Little and Brandon Shell at right tackle.

Jackson is back from IR and could be ready to return to the starting lineup, though it's possible the Dolphins coaches won't want to mess with something that's working right now.

"I mean, obviously we we've done some great things, but you can't look in the past," Williams said. "That's what turns into an Achilles heel. It's just week in, week out. I'm proud of the unit we've been but at the same time, there's nothing we've put in front of us and so it's just taking it day by day, new opponent week by week and a new opportunity week by week to set our new tone and who we want to be as a unit."