Wide receiver Teddy Williams leaps to grab a 51-yard reception -- his first NFL catch -- against the Falcons Sunday.
Teddy Williams doesn't take long to answer questions, but this one had him momentarily stumped.
On Sunday afternoon, he played an integral role in the Cardinals' 27-13 win over the Falcons, catching a 51-yard pass from quarterback Carson Palmer to set up the team's first score.
On Tuesday, he was asked not just about that reception, but also the one which preceded it. For most wide receivers, they usually come in the same game. Williams had to think back eight years.
"A Hail Mary jump pass at the end of the half against Port Arthur Memorial (High School)," Williams said with a snap of his fingers. "It was about a 50-yard pass. I caught it for a touchdown."
Some players are destined for greatness from the moment they strap on the pads. The path for the Cardinals' newest wide receiver was not nearly as direct.
Williams planned to play college football after his time at Tyler (Texas) John Tyler High, but interest dried up after he suffered a
season-ending broken ankle as a senior.
He instead pursued track at UT-San Antonio, finishing as a four-time All-America with a career-best 100-meter dash time of 9.90 seconds. He was so good at track that several professional opportunities awaited, but Williams again changed course and made another push for football.
At first, it was met with resistance.
"When I told people around me that I didn't want to run track any more, and that I wanted to pursue what my dreams and aspirations were when I was younger, a lot of people didn't believe in me," said Williams, whose Twitter handle is @Fast_Teddy. "A lot of people thought I was crazy. But I put one foot in front of the other and said I was not going to turn back."
Williams' original plan was to transfer to a Big XII school after four years at UT-San Antonio, since it did not have a football team at the time and Williams still had a year of college eligibility left. But he worked out for the Dallas Cowboys instead and impressed them enough to be signed to their practice squad in 2010.
Williams was elevated to the active roster for the first time on Dec. 21, 2010, but did not see any game action. He went back on the Dallas practice squad for all of 2011, moving between wide receiver and defensive back during his time with the Cowboys. Williams didn't see his first regular season action until last year with the Indianapolis Colts, playing in seven games as a defensive back and on special teams.
Williams was cut by Indianapolis in the preseason and the Cardinals signed him Oct. 21. Bruce Arians saw Williams while Arians coached the Colts last season, and while Williams was playing defense, Arians envisioned him on the other side of the ball.
"Having watched him play defensive back last year, I wondered why he couldn't play receiver," Arians said. "It would be an easier transition for him."
Williams and Palmer had very little time to get acclimated before the game against Atlanta. Palmer said he threw just one ball to Williams in practice last Wednesday, which was the same route they connected on in the game.
Palmer is happy for the bye week to get more time together, as a legitimate deep threat would open up other facets of the Cardinals' offense.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Palmer said. "Obviously, he can come in and make big plays when his number is called."
The Cardinals were missing a deep threat early in the year and now have two possibilities. Brittan Golden caught a 53-yard pass against the 49ers in Week 6 and like Williams, the bomb was his first NFL reception. Golden, however, hurt his hamstring in the game and hasn't played since.
Williams only played three snaps on offense against the Falcons, but was a presence on special teams, where his speed wreaks havoc. As he continues to learn the offense – and if he shows the ability to catch the ball – his playing time could increase. It only took one play for Williams to show his potential.
"Carson, when it left his hand I said, 'Oh God, he overthrew him,'" Arians said. "Then I see Teddy's down there just waiting for it."
"One thing you can't teach is speed," Arians added. "Whether they can catch, you have to find out. In his workout, once I saw that he was healthy again, we worked him out as a receiver and he caught the ball extremely well."
Colleges doubted Williams' ability to play football coming out of high school, and friends did when he left college. Now that he's getting his chance in the NFL, Williams is intent on proving he's more than just a track guy in pads.
"I just want to let my teammates know they can trust me," Williams said. "You've got this new guy coming in and he has all these accolades about running and this and that. What's he going to do on the football field to help our team? I just want to be able to help my teammates. They can trust me when I'm on the field. When the ball is in the air, Teddy's going to make the play. I want Larry (Fitzgerald) and Mike (Floyd) and all those guys to know. I want Carson to know that when he puts the ball up he can trust me to go get it."