So far in his NFL career, Ryan Williams hasn’t exactly proven himself to be durable or “tough”, as some would say. Losing his entire rookie campaign to a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee, then being placed on IR after the fifth game in 2012 due to an injured shoulder against the Rams. Staying healthy is a major concern this season for the 3rd year running back from Virginia Tech.
Just this past week, Williams admitted to an interviewer that he was “playing scared” in his few games played last season because he didn’t want to put his knee in the line of fire to be re-injured, and that his shoulder injury in week 5 was a “blessing in disguise”.
It was apparent through his play that he wasn’t himself. The normally hard-cutting, explosive back played more-than-a-step slow compared to what he is capable of.
People may think that he’ll be overshadowed by the addition of free agent Rashard Mendenhall and two draftees Stepfan Taylor from Stanford and Andre Ellington of Clemson, but if there is anyone that can prove the doubters wrong, it is Williams. In 2009, as a freshman at VT, he racked up an impressive 1655 rushing yards and led the ACC while finishing fifth in the NCAA.
When Williams is healthy, he is one of the most explosive, agile, and level-headed running backs to ever grace a football field. Vision from the backfield is a key factor with running backs in the NFL, and the ones with the best vision for the play, are the ones who can destroy an opposing defense any given day. Williams has that gift.
That uncanny ability to recognize what lineman have sealed their block and to immediately cut up the field to get to the second level. At which point he can break ankles of the secondary and make a few defensive backs miss. He has the skill to be a big play, every-down kind of back.
This season he will benefit immensely from a highly upgraded offensive line and a head coach that truly has a plan for his RBs, run the football. There will be no running routes to catch out of the backfield, no need to remember whether it is a drag or a hitch, just run the football and block on play action.
Williams has something to prove now. He has a newly found chip on his shoulder. If he can stay healthy this season, he may be one of the most dynamic, agile, and playmaking backs currently in the game. One thing is for certain, he will be ready to put on a show when he is called upon.