Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
Rookie WR Williams to see the field more
About the most action Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver Chad Williams has seen this season is when he has to clear out of the way from a crush of reporters and cameramen taking over the space in front of his locker to position themselves two- to three-deep for teammate Larry Fitzgerald's weekly locker-room interview sessions.
That will still continue to happen, but at least now Williams will actually be getting on the field and playing alongside the future Hall of Famer.
Williams, the Cardinals' third-round pick out of Grambling, is about to become a regular part of head coach Bruce Arians' offense moving forward and it starts this Sunday when Arizona meets the Jacksonville Jaguars at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Williams has only appeared in two games to date - a Week 2 overtime victory on the road over the Colts in which he caught one pass for 15 yards, and a Week 3 loss at home to Dallas when he caught one pass for eight yards.
But just like rookie tight end Ricky Seals-Jones last week, Williams is about to be thrown into the mix because of Arians' continual griping about too many regular pass-catchers dropping the football and failing to make critical receptions.
"Chad Williams is going to get his shot," Arians said this week. "He's been practicing really, really well, just like Ricky. Those guys have been practicing really well, and it's time for them to get a look."
Williams, who was drafted with the hope he could someday take over for Fitzgerald as the club's future No. 1 wideout, was smiling from ear to ear upon being told of Arians' comments.
"I'm just really excited, just ready and anxious for what's coming up," he said. "I've been in practice going against the best DBs in the league, sharpening up everything, and honestly, I just feel like I'm ready."
Williams has gotten plenty of time to watch and learn and study the playbook while being listed as inactive for the majority of the season. That time was difficult, but also invaluable.
"I definitely feel more comfortable because of it," he said. "I feel like I have way more experience now because of all the things I worked on and the mistakes I've been able to correct. I feel like all this time has made me a much better player."
Getting extensive work with quarterback Blaine Gabbert on the scout team has been another benefit for Williams.
"It helped a lot. I know exactly how Blaine throws and I kind of know what he thinks," Williams said. "In pregame, we always used to throw together and in scout team, we talked to each a lot like, 'How do you want me to run this and run that?' So I feel like we've got a pretty good connection."
Coaches have said Williams' route-running was his biggest obstacle, but that he's improved in that area considerably since training camp. It couldn't come at a better time, too, with wide receiver John Brown now sidelined because of a turf toe injury and Arians possibly contemplating benching the likes of either J.J. Nelson or Jaron Brown, or both.
Learning every single day by watching and talking to Fitzgerald might be the most important tool in helping Williams take the next step.
"I've learned a lot from Larry. Larry's showed me how to be a pro," Williams said. "He's shown me what it takes to succeed in this league. He's always telling me the right and the wrong. ... Everything I see him do I try to model myself after that and it's been helpful."
SERIES HISTORY: 5th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 2-2. The Cardinals have won the last two meetings, most recently a 24-17 win at Jacksonville in November, 2013. This will be the Jaguars' first ever visit to University of Phoenix Stadium. They are one of only two NFL teams yet to play in Glendale, including the Titans, who will be making their first visit in two weeks. The last time the Cardinals played the Jaguars in Arizona, it was in 2005 at Arizona State University. The Jaguars won that game 24-17 for their fourth straight win, but lost quarterback Byron Leftwich to a broken bone in his ankle when he was sacked by Adrian Wilson. Leftwich is now the Cardinals' quarterbacks coach.