Nose tackle Dan Williams is recovering from a broken arm.
Never has an NFL nose tackle been so excited to bench press 100 pounds, but Dan Williams recounted that moment last week with a certain glee.
It's been just about three months since Williams broke his left arm in San Francisco – "The worst pain I've ever been in," he said – and such baby steps in his rehab process are important.
Perhaps even more important would be another component of Williams' rehab also measured in pounds: His weight, a subject that dogged the 2010 first-round draft choice much of last season before his injury.
Thanks to rehab, Williams has been a daily visitor to the Cards' Tempe facility this offseason, and spending time on some version of a cardio machine has been part of the process. Williams said he weighs 327 pounds right now, which is his playing weight. He even wants to shed a few more to give him a little "leeway" as he gets into the spring.
Williams' weight will be part of his narrative until it isn't anymore. He knows it's going to come up. It's almost a part of playing the position, and it's a concern the Cards have tried to stress to Williams since he arrived.
"I was probably harder on myself, especially in that rookie year when they sat me down for being two pounds over," Williams said. "Usually I'd get to camp a few pounds over and get to my playing weight for the season. But you know it'll be blown up (as a story). I saw one story that said I was 380. It's kind of comedy.
"But I don't want to put myself in that situation. Once you start making plays and helping your team win, it goes away a little bit. I just want my coaches and teammates to trust I'll be at the right weight."
The broken arm got in the way of Williams "starting to get it," coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
"Sometimes it takes a hard lesson," Whisenhunt added. "He played poorly in the beginning of the season because he was out of shape. That was a product of not being here working because of the lockout. I don't think he realized that until he saw (rookie) David Carter go in and take some of his plays. That was tough for him. He realized he needed to get his weight down and get in shape, and when that happened, he started to play better. It's funny how those two things work together."
Whisenhunt believes Williams now understands the work needed to be successful. Williams certainly talks like it. He called his old nutritionist from the University of Tennessee and had her send him his menu from his college days and has subscribed to that full-time. He watches what he consumes and doesn't eat after 7 p.m.
It sounds simple, but Williams admitted that before this year, he figured as long as he started getting ready for camp "about June," he'd be OK. He now realizes it doesn't work that way.
Williams actually believes his weight has been one of the easiest things to handle since he got hurt that miserable day against the 49ers, when the helmet of teammate Stewart Bradley slammed into his arm, shattering the bone to the point he needed two rods to be inserted.
His foray into the bench press has been important, a "sign of encouragement" for a man who normally benches more than 300 pounds. Right after the surgery, Williams said he was told he could only pick up things like a bottle of water, "and only the 16-ounce bottle, not the 20-ounce one." Living everyday life and doing things like getting dressed was difficult.
"It's been a big learning experience," he said.
Williams learned to cope. He apparently has also learned the bigger lesson of being big – or too big. He expects his arm to be healthy enough to take part in organized team activities in May, and his weight should follow suit.
"When I do start getting back to full activities, it won't be a big deal," Williams said. "I'll be able to keep up."