Caddy still humming
Coming off the first losing season of his football career at any level - pee wee, high school, college or pro - running back Cadillac Williams no longer takes anything for granted. Not yards, not touchdowns and certainly not victories.
The Bucs' 4-12 season was frustrating for the NFL's 2005 offensive rookie of the year. His production dipped from 1,178 yards and seven touchdowns in 2005 to 798 yards and one touchdown in 2006. Of course, plenty of that can be blamed on the early injury to quarterback Chris Simms. With rookie Bruce Gradkowski running the offense for most of the season, opposing defenses did not respect the passing game. Instead, they stacked the line of scrimmage to shut down the Bucs running game and it's biggest threat: Williams.
It was nobody's fault, but Williams suffered.
"That's very frustrating because it's tough when you go out and practice hard during the week, prepare yourself, play hard on Sundays and you're just not getting results,'' Williams said after Wednesday's offseason practice at the team facility.
"It was a time where you had to say, 'Hard times don't last.' That's the approach I took. It did test my patience, my character, but through it all I think it's only going to make me a better football player. I found out you definitely shouldn't take winning for granted. From the season we had last year, I'm counting every win and going to be thankful for it."
Williams is healthy, no nagging injuries. He is working daily to become a more complete back, improving his receiving skills and blitz pickups in hopes of seeing more action on third down and in the two-minute drill. Despite last season's dip, his confidence is up heading into his third pro season.
"I actually have more confidence," Williams said. ""Even though we had a down year and I had a down year, my confidence level is still there. I definitely know what to expect and I feel like I know what we need to do as a team to win ball games."