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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs' Mike Williams drawing extra attention from defenses



Bucs receiver Mike Williams, who was the league's top rookie receiver in 2010, knew things wouldn't come easy as he began to build a reputation in the NFL.

And now, with defenses having a full season of tape on him, opponents are predictably trying to make him a nonfactor.

Williams had just one catch for minus-4 yards against the Vikings on Sunday, although he had a 17-yard touchdown reception negated by penalty. The primary reason for his lack of production: Bracket coverage from a cornerback and safety for most of the day. It's a reality that Williams knows he'll have to deal with.

"When they go to Cover 2, the corner, instead of dropping down into his zone, he’s following me," Williams said. "So it’s like it’s (there's) a safety over the top and the corner’s coming, too. Even the ball that I did catch, I got hit by the safety, too. It’s always two defenders where I’m at. I just have to adjust to it.

"Hopefully we keep getting wins and whatever happens, happens."

And that's the key, Williams said. Other players are taking advantage of soft spots in the coverage when the defense opts to shadow him. Preston Parker, who caught six passes for 98 yards, was one beneficiary.

"I’ve been saying for two years that we have a good receiving corps," Williams said. "If they double one guy, another guy is going to step up. That’s how we look at it. If one guy falls down, another guy comes in and does the same thing."

The Bucs are looking at ways to keep defenses guessing with Williams. Among the options are putting him in motion and lining him up in different spots at different times. Also, according to offensive coordinator Greg Olson, the plan is keep Williams and tight end Kellen Winslow on opposite sides of the field, forcing the defense to make choices. On the would-be touchdown, for example, the Vikings opted to double cover Winslow, according to coach Raheem Morris.

And then there's always going to be the occasional jump ball that Williams and quarterback Josh Freeman combined on so often last season. Williams believes he can come down with a majority of them, even against two defenders.

"I feel like I’m going to be 90 percent on opportunity balls," Williams said. "I tell Josh to go ahead and put it up. Throw right over his head and I’ll go up and get it. I feel like there are always going to be some plays for me."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2011 4:02pm]


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