Broncos’ DeShawn Williams eyeing starting job: “I want to have that spot”
Broncos defensive end DeShawn Williams remembers the Amazon boxes he used to lift and wide pallets he used to wrap, and can’t help but appreciate his rise.
“I’m highly favored, and I’m not taking a day for granted,” Williams said Thursday at Broncos training camp.
It was only two years ago, before he became a fixture on the Broncos’ defensive line, that Amazon was his primary employer.
Part of the reason Williams re-signed on a one-year deal with the Broncos this offseason was because general manager George Paton “wanted me back,” the veteran said. Another part was because of what the addition of quarterback Russell Wilson meant for the franchise’s championship prospects.
“No disrespect to all past quarterbacks that came after Peyton Manning, but it’s just a different urgency,” Williams said. “He’s trying to beat our (butt) every day in practice. That’s what makes it competitive. …
“The past couple years, it’s been one dimensional. You come to practice, we’ll beat up on the offense, and it’ll be a consistent basis. Now, they’re hitting first.”
Wilson has the hunger of a rookie, Williams said, and it’s fostered a new energy in practice.
Williams, who’s been cut nearly a dozen times throughout his career, has a similar attitude. Just because Williams may have pole position as one of the team’s starting defensive ends doesn’t mean he’s going to act like it. He knows what could happen should he come up for air.
“He’s a whole different player (since first joining the Broncos),” fellow defensive end Dre’Mont Jones said. “… He just works different.”
Williams knows he has younger eyes on him, curious to see how he carries himself through success and failure.
“That’s one of the reasons why they brought me back was just for that leadership, to see a guy that’s been in the locker room that still works his (butt) off each and every day, knowing that I could still be cut,” Williams said. “That’s just how I walk around. … Treat every day like you could be cut.”
Williams said numerous players, including veterans, have come up to him in the last few years to tell him he’s an inspiration to them. His perseverance is a living, breathing testimony to guys whose NFL existences have remained on the bubble. And that was Williams, up until recently.
Asked what it’s like not to sweat a roster spot during training camp, Williams laughed. After two encouraging seasons in Denver (76 tackles and three sacks in 822 snaps over 29 games), this upcoming season might represent Williams’ best chance with the Broncos.
Naturally, he’s not taking it lightly, or with an ounce of entitlement.
“I put pressure on myself because, not saying that spot is given because I have a guy like (McTelvin Agim) on my heels, Jonathan Harris is on my heels, so anybody can start,” Williams said. “It’s just the competition is driving everybody. … I won’t say it’s a lock position, set in stone. It’s for me to give up, and I don’t want to give it up, but I am happy that I have a group of guys that’s pushing me each and every day to not give it up.”
Williams lined up within the first-team defense Wednesday and Thursday but is careful not to overstep so early in camp.
“Not to say it in a cocky way, it’s just, I put the time in, I put the work in, not saying that anybody else didn’t, but I want to have that spot,” Williams said.
Said coach Nathaniel Hackett: “His ability to disturb and obstruct on the line of scrimmage is unbelievable. He has a low center of gravity and has the ability to use his hands and disrupt. I’ve been really blown away watching him by how he fights off blocks. He’s done a good job and he fights all the time and I’m just happy with where he’s going.”
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