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Day To Day A Lifestyle Right Now For Maxx Williams

Cardinals tight end doesn't want to rush knee prep

Tight end Maxx Williams goes out for a pass during Monday's training camp practice.
Tight end Maxx Williams goes out for a pass during Monday's training camp practice.

The mustache of Maxx Williams looked pretty good, if the tight end did say so himself.

"Wish I could've waxed it for you guys today," Williams said. "It's nice."

The tight end wishes that could be the biggest story around him in training camp. But it isn't the look of his face the Cardinals want to know about, it's the look of his right knee. The one that was caved in on the same field Williams was working on Monday, shredding his ACL and ending his season four-and-a-half games in.

It was a surprise to see Williams lifted off the Physically-Unable-To-Perform list last week. Then another impressive step Monday, when he took part in his first 11-on-11 work, albeit only for a few snaps.

He's not making predictions of being able to play in the preseason. He's not making predictions of being ready for the season opener. He's not making predictions at all.

"We're in no rush," Williams said. "We still have two weeks of camp left, a couple preseason games, a lot of time until September," adding, "Today is Monday? I'm thinking about Tuesday."

The Cardinals have their best tight end room since the franchise moved to Arizona. Zach Ertz is nursing a calf issue and rookie Trey McBride had a sore back for a few days, but those two are the ones who are expected to be there against the Chiefs Week 1.

Can Williams? The Cardinals wouldn't mind an unexpected early return.

"He's one of the best blocking tight ends I've ever seen or been around," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He can obviously do things in the pass game as you saw last year. Coming off that injury, we want to be smart with how we use him and play to his strengths.

"I am hopeful we can get those three guys out on the field at the same time, at some point."

McBride, who would take Williams' spot in the short-term as the blocker of the group, said he's learned a ton from Williams, both from the man himself and from watching a lot of film of the work Williams did last year before the injury.

Williams was off to the best start of his career, blocking and catching the ball. When his knee was folded in sideways against the 49ers, "it was devastating for me in the moment."

"For a couple days I was all pissed off, but what good was that going to do?" Williams said, before he eventually accepted his situation and went back to who he is – which is a good-natured, happy guy who cherishes his life.

"I'm still in the NFL," he said.

His son – now 5½ months old – being born in the offseason helped him through the rehab, giving him a distraction from the highs and lows of the attempted comeback.

His return to the practice field came ahead of schedule, but Williams noted "we got to the point in rehab where, 'I need to see if I can play football.' "

He doesn't need to play in preseason games to be ready, not going into his eighth NFL season, but if it makes sense and the team agrees, he could see himself getting a few snaps at some point.

Williams doesn't want to talk about the Chiefs, either.

"It's how do I get ready today," he said. "I don't want to rush anything, get ahead of myself, and then things are going bad quick and I look like an idiot Week 2 sitting on the bench because I wasn't ready."

There is one thing Williams was ready to predict following Monday's practice – that mustache, waxed or not, does not have a long shelf life. It will be shaved sooner rather than later, and almost certainly before the rest of his body is ready to play a football game.

"I'm pretty sick of it," Williams admitted.