It had been a long day, with the Cards’ No. 1 draft pick flying out of Memphis on an early flight in anticipation of getting to sign his first NFL contract, then waiting for it to actually be finalized. He had to take a physical and then endure the long car ride to Northern Arizona University.
But he was finally here – in time to catch the end of night meetings – even if he was tired.
“It’s kind of (been) like Christmas, waiting to open up those gifts,” Williams said after signing his new five-year deal. “If it were up to me I would’ve been here but there is the business side of football and it had to be done. I’m just glad to be here and to get the rookie rituals started.”
Williams will take part in his first practice Tuesday afternoon, although coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t sure if Williams would have to pass his conditioning test before or after practice.
Williams hasn’t gained any weight since leaving the cocoon of strength and conditioning coach John Lott in early July, although he admitted “I don’t know if I’m in John Lott shape.” That should change soon as the Cardinals see how quickly their top rookie can adjust to life in the NFL.
“(Darnell) Dockett already has plans for him, to make sure he’ll get extra reps,” Whisenhunt said.
The Cardinals have not announced the roster move that corresponds with Williams’ signing; a player must be released to make room for Williams on the roster.
Williams only missed four practices and three days of camp after taking part in all of the Cardinals’ offseason work, but Whisenhunt smiled when asked if the offseason work offset missing a couple days of camp.
“We have got some good work in the last few days and I don’t think you can make it up,” Whisenhunt said. “But he’s sure going to try.
“Like all young guys, he has to get an idea of what it takes. Over the summer, I think he more and more understood what he has to do. The big test now is where he is with his weight and conditioning.”
Williams said he stayed in contact with teammates and defensive line coach Ron Aiken so he could find out what he was missing, but noted “I’m a quick learner.”
Terms of Williams’ contract were not immediately available, but Denver quarterback Tim Tebow received a five-year deal reportedly worth $11.25 million with $8.7 million guaranteed as the pick directly in front of Williams. The pick after Williams, New England cornerback Devin McCourty, got a five-year contract reportedly worth $13.2 million with $7.825 million guaranteed.