FLAGSTAFF – Dan Williams just wanted to avoid the caveat.
In the past, the nose tackle said he’d hear, “Dan, good practice today – but get your weight down.” His goal was to have the message simply be, “Dan, good practice today.” So, despite a broken arm suffered last season that kept him out of the final five weeks of the season, Williams pushed himself not only in his rehab but also in his weight control.
“I wanted to show the coaches I had been working, that I had matured over the first two seasons and I have really become a pro,” Williams said.
That started with weighing in at 314 pounds when camp started, a significant number in the Williams development. He said he wants to play in the 315 to 320 range during the season, and for the first time, he passed the team’s run test.
Last year, Williams came in to camp out of shape. He never had the same weight issues as former teammate Deuce Lutui, but he never could seem to hit his mark consistently. Now he plans to do just that.
“There’s no question Dan looks great,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We were joking today that when we do conditioning after practice this year he doesn’t have to do extra for the first time. It’s a tribute to Dan. We made a point during the spring that we were counting on Dan, and he took it to heart.”
Williams, the 2010 No. 1 pick of the Cards, is a key figure in the Cards’ defense.
“I decided, ‘Hey, time to get back to work and stop trying to make excuses,’ ” Williams said. “Even though you feel a certain way, you need to do things the way the coaches want you to do it. It makes it easier for everybody that way.”
WORKING THE WALKTHROUGHS
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, if a team has two practices in a day during training camp, one must be a simple walkthrough – which is exactly what it sounds like, without helmets or any pads.
In the past, the second “lighter” practice at least had some things like some seven-on-seven work, which can’t happen now.
“Essentially this takes that away but there is still value to it,” Whisenhunt said. “We can work on blitz protections or blitzes, see how they work, how we pick them up. We can do special teams work.”
The Cards have their first walkthrough Thursday morning.
UP TO 90
Last season, NFL teams were allowed to increase preseason rosters from 80 players to 90 last season because of the lockout and the short time to prepare for the season. Owners decided to make the rule permanent.
The extra 10 players probably don’t have a great chance to make the roster, but it does give teams a greater understanding of potential players down the road, Whisenhunt said.
“This business is about being able to have enough evaluation and information as you can from players,” Whisenhunt said. “With 90 of them, you know you only get 53 with eight practice squad guys, but you know there are a significant number of the rest of them that you’ll have information on. If you need them in Week 10, you know more about what you are getting.”