Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Williams puts in work off field to be rookie success

TAMPA — On the surface, Mike Williams' 20-yard touchdown catch in Sunday's Bucs victory over the Seahawks looked like little more than a receiver running a good route and a stumbling cornerback unable to do anything to stop him.

But there was much more to it.

What you saw was Williams, a rookie, perfecting his craft. You saw the product of months of learning and improving. And you saw some of what gives Williams the potential to be great.

Williams is talented. He has impressive speed. And his hands are as reliable as most receivers'. But most important, Williams knows it takes more than that to succeed in the NFL.

"You have to understand that there are guys who have been doing this way before you got here," said Williams, 23. "There are guys who are going to the Hall of Fame and are places that you'll probably never get. So, you have to be mature to say, 'I did what I did in college. Now that's over.' You have to get better."

Which brings us back to the touchdown against Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant. Williams used the latitude recently given him by offensive coordinator Greg Olson to vary how he runs his routes in an effort to fool the defense. That's not a privilege coaches typically give to rookies.

Williams baited and tricked Trufant. When the eight-year veteran realized he had been taken, he couldn't recover.

"(Olson) gives me freedom in my routes, and in the last four or five games, I've been taking advantage of that," Williams said. "Usually, receivers just go out there and just run their routes the regular way you're supposed to.

"I knew this corner was going to play me inside. So, I went inside, and I reversed (the route) to the outside. That messed his head up. … He's got me in one-on-one coverage, so he can't give me any (space). I gave him a move like I was going outside, and he bit. Then it was over."

Williams ended up breaking inside and running a skinny post route, the unexpected move leaving Trufant barely able to keep his feet while trying to change directions.

The freedom Olson and receivers coach Eric Yarber have given Williams is a response to the attention the rookie has drawn from defenses during his impressive season. With teams using safeties to double team Williams, the Bucs found it was becoming increasingly difficult to get him the ball.

It became a test of Williams' ability. Williams has learned that what he does off the field — commitment in the film room and on the practice field — will be the difference.

"He's becoming what we call a true pro," Olson said. "He's trying to study his craft and master his craft. He watches other players, and he's very critical of himself."

Coach Raheem Morris said that before Williams was drafted in the fourth round out of Syracuse, "I'm not sure if he has ever been a football junkie that came and watched a bunch of tape and studied himself.

"He's really becoming that total football player."

Olson and Yarber have emphasized that with Williams. In the offseason, the staff put together a DVD for Williams that had every 2009 catch from several receivers whose games Williams' resembles. Among them: the Dolphins' Brandon Marshall, the Bengals' Terrell Owens and the Texans' Andre Johnson. Williams has been incorporating aspects of their games since.

Williams has expanded his film study of defenders, too.

"I try to see what corners have gotten beat on before and how they got beat," he said. "Then I'm going to duplicate it. I'm a big film guy. Just watching film and understanding little things like that are helping me get open a little bit more."

It's paying off. Two weeks ago against Detroit, Williams had one of his best games, catching six passes for 96 yards. Sunday against Seattle, he had his first multitouchdown game, reaching the end zone twice.

He leads all rookies with 61 receptions, 924 yards and 10 touchdowns. If he reaches 1,000 yards, he'll become the eighth rookie to amass 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, a group that includes Mike Ditka, Bob Hayes and Randy Moss.

"(Williams) has good football savvy," Yarber said. "I've told him about playing the game within the game, and he applies it out on the field.

"Talent alone is not enough."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Williams puts in work off field to be rookie success 12/30/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 30, 2010 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks
  2. For starters: Cobb on the hill against Orioles

    Blogs

     

    Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game.
  3. Bucs DE Jacquies Smith (ACL) will start on active PUP list

    Blogs

    In the first quarter of a season opening win at Altanta last season, Jacquies Smith suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while attemping to cover a punt.

    Jacquies Smith will begin training camp on the active Physically Unable to Perform list.
  4. Odorizzi on disabled list with lower back strain

    Blogs

    Odorizzi (6-4, 4.47) has been victimized this season by the long ball, allowing 23 home runs in his 18 starts. He will miss starts in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium and against the homer-happy Astros in Houston next week.

    Jake Odorizzi was placed on the 10-day disabled list this morning.
  5. Bucs rookies Beckwith, McNichols cleared for training camp

    Blogs

    The Bucs took a calculated risk on two injured players that were discounted in the NFL draft and it may pay off.

    LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwiith (51) fell to the third round after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a game against Florida Nov. 19.