During his final two seasons at Alabama, Tim Williams had 19.5 sacks and 28.5 tackles for losses.
Acquired off waivers from Baltimore on Wednesday, could Williams be called upon to simply “go get the quarterback” on Sunday in Dallas?
“It could be that simple,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said on Thursday. “I’ve been told football is a simple game that’s been made complicated by coaches.”
Williams was a third-round pick by the Ravens in 2017. He was released this week, having registered only two sacks in 19 games over two-plus seasons. He played just seven snaps last week against Cleveland.
“Those guys, the organization, whatever moves they wanted to make, I can’t be too busy stressing myself out over a situation I can’t control,” Williams said after going through his first practice on Thursday. “The only thing I can control is me being available, showing I’m accountable, and proving to myself that I can play in this league.”
Does he have something to prove to himself, having been the rare third-round pick to be cast aside in the midst of his third season?
“That’s the only person I have to prove that to because I’m my own worst enemy,” he said. “I feel like any person, wherever you are in life, you should be able to conquer your reflection before you conquer anything else.”
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Maybe the fresh start will be just what Williams needs. Not that Za’Darius Smith needed a fresh start but he’s been unleased with the Packers after spending his first four seasons in Baltimore. After seasons of 5.5, 1.0, 3.5 and 8.5 sacks with the Ravens, Smith signed with the Packers in free agency. After posting 8.5 sacks and 35 pressures last season, he’s on pace for 12 sacks and 52 pressures this season.
“I see how Z’s playing more freely here. They’ve got the chains off him,” Williams said. “That’s always a plus, seeing a guy you were on another team with, seeing he’s got three sacks already. I’m licking my chops. I’m just ready to attack the playbook see where I fit in, special teams, it doesn’t matter. I just want to play.”
After spending the last two seasons with Williams, Smith knows his once-again teammate better than anyone in the building.
“We were two guys that were playing behind a legendary guy, Terrell Suggs,” Smith said. “Man, we were still learning at the time. I felt like when I got here, coach Mike Pettine, he basically took the chains off. He let us loose. You can basically see that from the first three games with how we’ve been executing our plays and assignments. To be able to have the opportunity to come out here and play a little looser, I feel like is a good thing for me and the whole defense.”
And, potentially, for Williams. While it didn't work out for Williams in Baltimore, Smith sees nothing but the potential for Williams to add more firepower to the outside linebacker corps.
“I can tell you this: He’s legit,” Smith said. “I don’t know the situation from leaving Baltimore but I can tell you this: Now that we have him, he’s a guy that’s going to scare a lot of quarterbacks around this league.”
Time will tell if that’s the case but it was worth a shot by general manager Brian Gutekunst. At Alabama, Williams was mostly a pass-rushing specialist. In fact, he started only two games during his final season. At the 2017 Scouting Combine, he ran his 40 in 4.68 seconds. His workout wasn’t the headline-maker from his Combine, though. Rather, it was his admission that he “failed some” drug tests at Alabama. He also was suspended for the first half of a game for a gun-possession arrest.
“I just remember coming out, he’s a pass rusher that’s got some juice to him,” Pettine said. “Just the little I saw of him today, that was evident. It’s going to take a little bit of time to work him in and get him acclimated and kind of see where he is. I know there are some similarities with what we do because of the roots of our system, being in Baltimore, so there’s going to be some carryover. He’ll probably be out there and do (special) teams first, and then we’ll find small, niche roles to work him in if that ends up being the case.”