DETROIT — Cadillac Williams sat at his locker with a huge ice pack wrapped on his right knee. But the big chill that has kept his career on ice for more than a year ended Sunday.
The fourth-year halfback played for the first time since a severe knee injury — a torn right patellar tendon — Sept. 30, 2007, at Carolina. Until Sunday, it was unclear if Williams would play against the Lions because he was added to the injury report Friday with a hamstring strain. But he had plenty of work in support of Warrick Dunn.
In the end, the statistics weren't pretty — 16 carries for 27 yards — and there was a collision with quarterback Jeff Garcia that caused a fumble, returned 44 yards for a Lions touchdown in the first quarter.
But for Williams, returning to the lineup, churning out yards and taking shots were important milestones in his long road back.
How did it feel to be out there?
Man, unbelievable. For me to suit up in this '08 season, the odds were against me. It was a career-threatening injury, but all the hard work I put myself through, it paid off.
How did you feel in terms of cutting?
Once the game got going, I got it going. Especially when they got me a few carries at the end. I got a rhythm, and it felt good.
Unfortunately, before you got your first carry, there was the mishap with Jeff Garcia, causing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. What was going through your head?
When that happened, I came to the sideline and said, "Well, welcome back. What a way to start." That's a mistake that won't happen again. … Both of us played a role in it. It's one of those plays I just want to forget — a stupid mistake by both of us.
After that, your first carry was a 4-yard gain. How did that feel?
Once I got the ball in my hand and just got that first contact, I was like, "Okay, okay, this is what I'm used to doing." So I felt good.
Are your personal stats meaningless today?
No doubt. Before I left for the game, my mama said, "Son, I'll be prayin' for you. I hope you have a big game." I said, "Mama, I'm just glad to be out there. I really don't care if I play. I'm going to be in a uniform. I'm going to be proud to be out there." So for me to go out and get carries and do a little something only puts icing on the cake.
Did your teammates say anything to you during the game?
I think a lot of the guys were just excited I was out there. A lot of the offensive linemen were saying, "I've been waiting forever to block for you, man." I think everybody was just ecstatic to see me out there in uniform. And week in, week out, it's only going to get better.