— Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mike Williams is back doing what loves after a year off the football field,
Williams joined training camp early along with quarterbacks, wide receivers and other players recovering from injury. What’s left for him to prove is that injuries and issues that sidelined him for most of three lost seasons are behind him and that he is ready to make a contribution to his new team.
“It feels real good,” Williams said Wednesday after his first training camp practice. “That’s what I’ve been training for to get back out there, so it’s kind of good that I got an early start. It feels really good to be back out here again.”
Williams has had a troubled journey to Kansas City after being plagued by injuries during the 2013-14 seasons in Tampa Bay and Buffalo. Upon his release in Buffalo, Williams sat out the 2015 season as a free agent. He signed a one-year free agent contract with the Chiefs in April.
During his first three seasons as a Buccaneer, Williams showed explosive potential. In 2010, he finished second in the voting for The Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year and was named to several all-rookie teams. He tallied more than 2,700 receiving yards along with 23 touchdown catches.
There is an opportunity for Williams with the Chiefs, who are looking for another downfield threat to complement Jeremy Maclin. The Chiefs hope Williams can recover the athleticism and skills that at one time put him among the league’s top up-and-coming wideouts.
Coach Andy Reid said the key for Williams is staying healthy.
“We know he can play and his biggest thing is that he’s been banged up,” Reid said. “If he can stay healthy, this is an offense that he can be very effective in. We’ll take it day by day and see how he does.”
During the first practice, Williams found himself facing off against cornerback Phillip Gaines, who is also working his way back from injury. Gaines was impressed with that he saw on day one.
“He’s got a big body but he has a short area of quickness that makes up for his size,” Gaines explained. “You read him initially and think he’ll be a little slower but he’s really quick and has some good hands. He’ll be a good element to our team if he keeps working.”
For his part, Williams thinks he may be better prepared to endure the rigors of an NFL season than he was earlier in his career.
“But I don’t want to tell you this, but I think I’m kind of better to be honest,” Williams said. “I think I’m training a lot more. I’m focusing a lot more on my plays, and they got me in different positions. In Tampa, I would only play one side. I never moved around. They got me playing everywhere, so we’ll see.”
Williams said the process of getting back on the football field has not been frustrating.
“Not at all,” he said. “This is what I love to do. I’m back doing what I love to do.”