Reality set in for rookie WR Derrick Williams when he got to the National Football League, but a bright future could be in store.
The Lions drafted Williams in the sixth round (82nd overall) of this year’s draft with the intention of him being an immediate asset in the return game.
Unfortunately, Williams had an unexpected setback and found himself on the inactive list through the first four games of the season.
Williams: “I hit a learning curve while sitting out. That was the biggest thing that I had to deal with. I always played. I was always ‘the guy.’ All these guys were the guys on their team and me just coming in, I had to adjust with that, and settle in my role as a team player.
“There are a lot of rookies that are going through the same thing that I went through. The only thing I could do is to make sure that I was ready for when my number was called, so I could go out there and perform. I just take it as a learning experience.”
Thankfully for Williams, his time on the sidelines was short-lived.
Needing a spark in the return game against Pittsburgh, Head Coach Jim Schwartz looked to Williams for improvement and he didn’t disappoint. Williams averaged 21.4 yards a return to give the offense its best starting position since Week 2.
Williams: “The only thing that you can do is take care of your assignment. As a whole, everybody just needs to take care of the little things and the big things will happen. Little things by just taking care of their assignments, their blocks, kickoff returns, punts – everything is a team game. That’s what is so brilliant about this game we play in because there is no “I” in team and nobody can just go out there and do it themselves.
“We limited the mistakes. We tightened our package down. Anytime we can sneak a good return out there, you know, getting to the 30 or to the 35, that’s definitely going to help the offense out and the only thing I can do is take care of my responsibility and just try to execute everything that I can do.”
In addition to his solid play on the return game, Williams displayed his ability at the receiver position. Due to an injury to WR Calvin Johnson’s knee, Williams was called upon to fill in at the third receiver spot.
He wound up with 37 yards receiving on two catches, and also drew an interference call that helped set up a Lions touchdown.
Williams: “I was just going out there trying to do what I can do. Anytime the ball was near me I tried to catch it; tried to make a play. We were in a crucial series when we could have tied the game up. I had no choice. I had to go out there and to try and perform and make things count. Especially, being a guy like me, rotating in at third receiver and fourth receiver, you never know when it’s going to be your time to go in there. A freak accident happens and you’re in there, and you have to go in there prepared for all of your assignments.”
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