Inside The Bills

Mike Williams’ leadership via text

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2014 – 10:14 pm

Bills WR Mike Williams does things a little differently than most off the field, which is why it was no surprise to hear one of his unconventional methods of leadership for Buffalo’s offense.

After perhaps one of their best passing days this summer in practice Thursday, Williams confirmed that the competition of working with the Steelers brought out the best in them. He then elaborated on how he tries to keep his offensive teammates motivated leading up to practice.

“Being competitive, you want to win every down,” he said. “I send those guys a text, the receivers and quarterbacks, every day telling them we want to win every down. No matter what it is, we want to win. We want to win first down, we want to win second down, third down and if we go for it on fourth. We want to win. I think it’s about all of us being competitive. We want to win because the fans are out here and we want to show everybody that we’re a threat.”

Williams caught four passes in Thursday’s practice and was one of the top 3 playmakers from the session.


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Manuel assesses his play from Wednesday

Posted by Chris Brown on August 13, 2014 – 10:50 pm

EJ Manuel was asked to rate his play from Wednesday’s first practice session with the Steelers. Buffalo’s quarterback wouldn’t call it perfect, but was pretty pleased with how things turned out in the team portions of practice.

“I thought it went well. There were a few balls that I wish I could have back, but besides that I thought we were very good on third down,” said Manuel. “We executed early in practice and we were rolling. I got a chance to go with the first and the second group, so that was very good. The more at-bats I get, the happier I’ll be. Just getting the chance to be better each play.”

In a live interview on the John Murphy Show tonight, WR Mike Williams, who caught a tipped pass for a touchdown Wednesday, said Manuel looked “very confident” on the field Wednesday.


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Mom said, ‘Make them see you.’

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2014 – 9:47 am

Bills WR Mike Williams is pretty happy to be playing for the team he grew up watching and rooting for. The Riverside High grad and Syracuse star had about six touchdowns in practice Sunday and partially credited his mom’s advice for how determined he is to make good on the plays that count the most.

“My mom always said, ‘Make them see you when they’re supposed to see you,’” said Williams. “That’s what she always said to me.  That’s like big first downs, touchdowns,  those are the ones they see.  They don’t see the first play of the game, slants or the second play of the game, curl route.  As soon as you catch that third and 15 or game-tying touchdowns, those are the ones they remember.  It kind of seems like that’s how my career is going.”

The Bills will be only too happy to see that trend continue.


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Mike Williams moving toward 100%

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2014 – 9:42 am

Bills WR Mike Williams teamed up with Sammy Watkins at Sunday’s afternoon practice to dazzle the fans in attendance at times with some high degree of difficulty catches. Williams calls them his “normal catches.” What’s really surprising is Williams, who was recovering from a leg injury in the spring still doesn’t even believe he’s all the way back to the full Mike Williams.

“I’m at like 65%, right now,” Williams said. “I think Week One in Chicago I’ll be 100%.”

If Williams’ play in the camp setting is just 65 percent, Bills fans have a lot to look forward to.


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Mike Williams: “Throw it to the clouds”

Posted by johnmurphyshow on August 10, 2014 – 8:00 pm

After two preseason games, and three weeks of training camp, the chemistry between QB EJ Manuel and veteran WR Mike Williams is starting to develop.

In Friday’s preseason win in Carolina, the pair connected for a 28-yard pass play down the middle when Manuel threw it high and Williams went over DB Josh Norman to bring it in.

In Sunday’s after practice at training camp, Manuel and Williams were at it again. EJ found Williams in the end zone during red zone work in one of the early 11-on-11 sessions. And Williams was targeted several times in later red zone work as well.

Williams says he wants to be the quarterback’s go-to guy in the red zone, and he practically guarantees success when he’s thrown the ball.

“I always tell them there’s a 96-percent chance–the other 4-percent is their fault,” he laughed.  “I always tell them, throw it to the clouds, I’m going to find a way to bring it down.”

“It’s true,” Manuel says.  “He’s done it day and day out and he’s been very consistent as far as tracking the ball, whether it’s a fade or a deep ball or a post. I think a great example of that was how we did it in the game. The corner played off him a little bit and I just stuck it on him, he went up and made a great catch. Having that as a security blanked with a wide receiver is awesome for us. “

Williams says he focuses on making big impact catches, for touchdowns and first downs, instead of worrying about how many passes he catches in a game.

” My mom always said, ‘make them see you when they’re supposed to see you.’ That’s what she always said to me,” Williams said. “That’s like big first downs, touchdowns, those are the ones they see. They don’t see the first play of the game, slants or the second play of the game, curl route. As soon as you catch that third and 15 or game-tieing touchdowns, those are the ones they remember. It kinda seems like that’s how my career is going.”

 


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Competitive fire on display Sunday

Posted by johnmurphyshow on August 10, 2014 – 7:04 pm

A long, hot practice in the sunshine at Bills camp made for some competitive, chippy play on Sunday.  And both the Bills offense and defense were not shy about letting the other side know when they made big plays.

Veteran wideout Mike Williams took an extra long bow to the crowd after catching a tough touchdown pass in traffic during red zone work.  And Williams curtain call resulted in DB Corey Graham throwing the ball at him after he started to return to the huddle.

“I had about six touchdowns today,” Williams said after practice. “It’s very competitive, we wanted to make it like that. We always want to make it competitive, we want them (defense) to compete, so we can be our best on Sundays.”

Safety Aaron Williams embraced the competitive, fiery nature of Sunday’s practice.

“It’s just one of the things we’re trying to do to get better,” he said. “We don’t want to take crap from anybody. When somebody jumps in your face we’re not going to let it go. We’re trying to be a different defense, more attitude, and just trying to have the attitude that we’re going to win and it has to happen on both sides.”

 


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Fan Friday 8-8

Posted by Chris Brown on August 8, 2014 – 12:02 pm

Hey Bills fans. My apologies for the brief hiatus that Fan Friday took the past two weeks, but we’re back. So keep firing off your questions on email to AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills

Here’s the latest edition of your questions.

1 - Chris,
Thanks for the piece on Jeff.  I was wondering how he was progressing.
He impressed me at the SJF scrimmage last year.  Seemed to get the ball out quickly and made good decisions.
He reminds of Alex Van Pelt but a better athlete.  He impressed again against KC until the pick 6.  He appears to be the fastest and most elusive QB on his feet.  Finally, the Bills protected him all last year with a roster spot so they saw something they liked.
What if he outplays EJ in the preseason again?

Thanks for the good work.

Dan Malwitz
Orchard Park

CB: Tuel has looked good in training camp, picking up where he left off in the spring minicamp. His first preseason game performance was also encouraging. This past week in practice leading up to tonight’s game Tuel gave way to Thad Lewis for second team offense reps. I expect Lewis to be in the backup quarterback role tonight against the Carolina Panthers.

As good as Tuel has looked this competition is a marathon not a sprint. We’ll need to see how Lewis fares tonight with the second unit. Through the first three weeks of training camp practices, Tuel has been the more consistent performer and the better decision maker. But there are still almost three weeks of camp left so there is a lot of time for things to change.

As for Tuel’s chances of unseating EJ Manuel, it simply won’t happen. This organization has put all their eggs in the Manuel basket to lift the offense to new heights. Tuel, or Lewis for that matter, will only take the field in the regular season if Manuel is injured and cannot play. Priority number one is getting Manuel ready to lead the offense this fall.

 

2 – Dear Chris,

I do believe our receivers are some of the most diverse in the NFL. We have Sammy who is very versatile and I think is worth what we gave up in the future for him. We have Mike Williams who we traded for from the Bucs for a late round pick who can be very reliable in the end zone. We also have the help from Robert Woods in the slot who can be a reliable replacement for Steve Johnson. Then we have Marquise Goodwin who is somebody who can break the top off the roof with his lighting fast speed. To top it off we have Marques Easley who helps big time on special teams. The question I have is how do you think Coach Marrone is going to incorporate all these wide receivers to make a winning group who can help Manuel exceed to be the franchise QB I believe he can be?
Thanks,
Bill

CB: I think your description of diverse is very accurate. I believe it’s what GM Doug Whaley had in mind in changing some of the pieces. He got two boundary receivers in Mike Williams and Sammy Watkins, who have large catch radiuses to pull in passes that may not be right on the money. Watkins and Williams are also experts at winning jump balls. Robert Woods and Chris Hogan are both good separation receivers, who can get yards after the catch. Goodwin and Graham offer deep speed to stretch a defense and you’ve already mentioned Marcus Easley’s strengths.

All of that talent is on the roster to provide Manuel with the confidence to let it fly and trust his playmakers. Williams and Watkins are capable of making plays even when they’re covered. Woods and Hogan have a high percentage of route wins meaning they’re usually open for Manuel to make use of and Goodwin and Graham are always threats to get behind a defense.

The bottom line however, is it’s on Manuel to make them successful because no matter how effective any of the receivers are at winning their matchups, those wins do not add up to anything if Manuel doesn’t target them and make the right decisions. The success of the receiving corps is ultimately dependent on Manuel’s on field decision making and accuracy.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

Thanks continuing to answer questions concerning the Bills. Many fans including myself really enjoy seeing your answers to what sometimes are very difficult questions. This question may qualify as a difficult one.

With 4 running backs on the team, what’s chances someone gets traded?

Thanks,
Bob Hammond
CB: Appreciate the kind words. As for the running backs on Buffalo’s roster, the natural speculation is that the staff will not keep all four on the squad when the roster is reduced to 53. I think what most casual observers are not considering are two important factors.

First, this team ran the football more than any other NFL club in the league last season. That heavy workload was part of the reason both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller succumbed to lingering injuries that compromised their effectiveness in 2013.

The front office and coaching staff made a conscious decision to fortify their running back stable in the offseason so in the event that injuries crop up again this season there will be little to no drop off in their rushing attack. Bryce Brown and ‘Boobie’ Dixon provide such depth.

Barring a catastrophic injury situation at another position that could require them to move one of their running back assets to fill a void via trade, I believe all four will be on the roster come September because at its core this offense will be defined by their run game.

And teams that are run heavy are quickly realizing that if one of your top two backs goes down to injury the identity of your offense will be dramatically impacted. Having these four backs protects against such a setback.

 

4 – Chris,

A – With the signing of Anthony Dixon and his power and size as RB, does that pose a threat to the FB position and the job of Frank Summers?
B – At this point who is considered the 1st Backup Center to Eric Wood?
C – Has it been disclosed by the team as to the health issue Chris Hairston had?  Can he play both guard and tackle positions which would drastically improve his chances of making the roster?

-Joe

CB: I think Dixon is a lock to make the roster, and if the numbers do not allow for a true fullback in Frank Summers, then yes it’s likely that Dixon would serve in the fullback role when such play calls on offense require one.

Backup center to Eric Wood is Doug Legursky at this point.

Chris Hairston medical situation from last season has not been revealed due to HIPAA laws. It is only up to Hairston as to whether or not he wants to make his condition, which is he over now, to be disclosed. As has been seen in training camp, he’s been lined up at both guard and tackle, with tackle being his most recent position. That is where he feels most comfortable since guard is new to him. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares tonight with the expectation that he’ll line up as the second team left tackle.

 

5 – Hi Chris,
As always, thank you so much for all of your excellent work. The opportunity for Bills fans to stay informed from afar is just excellent. I want to begin by saying I have all the faith in Jim Schwartz and the Bills defensive personnel, but I would like your insight on something. I understand that the exotic blitz packages of the Pettine era will not continue and that there needs to be a balance. We clearly weren’t where we needed to be against the run nor on third down efficiency. In the July 4th Fan Friday you mentioned that you would trade 10 sacks for the top 3rd down defense and top 10 run defense. I completely agree, but what I haven’t heard mentioned by anyone is how that would affect our secondary.

I was very impressed with the play of our secondary, even without Jairus Byrd, and especially by the number of turnovers they generated. My question is, by reducing the QB pressure, don’t we sacrifice more than just the sacks? I worry that we open ourselves up for more deep plays from the opponents passing game. I believe there is a perfect balance in there somewhere and I truly believe Jim Schwartz is deserving of the respect he is given around the league, I am just curious to hear your thoughts on the issue.
Thank you,
Cory in VA

CB: The only point I was trying to make was I would rather have more balanced production defensively across the board. I didn’t mean to infer that 10 fewer sacks would need to happen to have a better run defense or better third down defense. What encourages me is Jim Schwartz strives to have across the board production with his defense. And I don’t believe that you have to sacrifice sacks to be better in those other areas.

Schwartz has been a successful DC because he has found that perfect balance in his career as a defensive play caller. It’s my belief that he’ll be able to do that here perhaps more than anywhere else he has coached in his career. The main reason why is because this is the most talented secondary he has ever had in his career as a defensive coordinator.

When you have a secondary capable of man coverage it helps the pass rush and when you have a front four that can generate effective pressure it allows you to drop seven into coverage. Schwartz will take those two advantages and creatively use play calling to keep opposing offenses guessing.


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How EJ changed his throws to ‘Big Mike’

Posted by Chris Brown on July 27, 2014 – 7:56 pm

Mike Williams put on a show in the red zone in Sunday’s practice showing his expert ability to high point the football and out jump defenders. He told EJ Manuel at the outset of training camp to put the ball “in the clouds” and he’ll go get it. On Sunday he was true to his word, but Manuel shared how he’s changed the way he throws to Williams based on a conversation they had.

“Well, at first when I started throwing to him, I used to just lead him,” said Manuel. “Mike just wants the ball up there so he can go up and get it. Instead of having to throw it 60 yards down the field and having him have to track it. That’s just an example of us getting a better rapport with one another.”

“I can see him progressing as it goes,” said Williams of Manuel. “He’s feeling his way right now. There are new guys on our team that he’s going to be throwing to. It’s kind of a different offense when you put it all together like that, but as I saw it he got better and better with that.”


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Watkins playmaking will open things up

Posted by Chris Brown on July 25, 2014 – 11:03 pm

With all the plays being turned in by Sammy Watkins in the training camp practices, it’s bound to lead to greater attention from opposing defenses and that will lead to more opportunities for the other receivers.

That doesn’t always reveal itself in the structured nature of practice, but in a game when opposing defenses are reacting Watkins is going to draw added attention. That will benefit the likes of Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin and the rest of the receiving corps.

“I don’t think it’s ever been just Sammy and Sammy knows that too,” said EJ Manuel. “He’s obviously getting an opportunity to make plays just like the rest of those guys. Obviously, all I want to do is just give those guys an opportunity to make a catch and they do the rest.”

“We’ve just got so many guys that can go out and make plays, we’ve always got a lot of speed on the field,” said Watkins. “We’ve got guys that can go over you, we’ve got guys that can run great routes, so when one guys making plays, that’s when other guys start to open up because they start to double or run a certain coverage. With everybody making plays, it’s been hard for the coaches and the offense because they want everyone on the field at the same time.”


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Mike Williams sees EJ’s improvement

Posted by Chris Brown on July 20, 2014 – 9:31 am

He doesn’t think it’ll take long for his on field chemistry to develop with EJ Manuel, and one of the reasons why is he saw Manuel’s progress through the course of the spring practices.

WR Mike Williams, who we profiled on Buffalobills.com this morning (Sunday), believes it won’t take much more than a day of practice for the tandem to get on the same page. It seems ambitious, but Williams has confidence in the second-year quarterback.

“I can see him progressing as it goes. He’s feeling his way right now,” said Williams. “There are new guys on our team that he’s going to be throwing to. It’s kind of a different offense when you put it all together like that, but as I saw it he got better and better with that.”

Williams will get his first crack at chemistry with Manuel in tonight’s evening practice at 6:10 at St. John Fisher.


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What comes after reps to build rapport with WRs

Posted by Chris Brown on July 17, 2014 – 1:19 pm

Bills QB EJ Manuel is about to begin his most important training camp. Big things are expected from him after a rookie season that included three different knee injuries that cost him six starts. And he’ll need to do it while getting used to a pair of new wideouts in Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams. Obviously reps on the practice field will be the most important way to build the chemistry between himself and the two receivers in the passing game. As for the next most important way to build the rapport, Manuel has a thought on how to most effectively get on the same page.

“I think the biggest thing for us is to watch the film together,” Manuel told Buffalobills.com. “I think that’s one thing that we’re excited to do. Obviously with coach Hackett being the OC he kind of goes over everything, but I think it helps me to watch film together because everybody can be on the same page. Instead of receivers saying, ‘Hey what was EJ thinking here?’ Or, ‘What was C.J. thinking here on this run?’ We can all just talk about it right then and there and it goes back to our rapport getting stronger as a team being together for year now and it’s easier to hold everybody accountable.”

Today in our Camp Countdown we took a look at the three ways EJ Manuel can become a difference maker for Buffalo’s offense.


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Couple of vets return to practice

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2014 – 11:15 am

There were two veteran players that returned to the offensive side of the ball at OTAs Tuesday.

WR Mike Williams and RB Anthony Dixon were both absent for Monday’s voluntary session, but both are back working with their teammates today.

TE Tony Moeaki is also participating after sitting out Monday’s session.


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Mike Williams on the fire within

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2014 – 10:09 am

Bills newest WR Mike Williams says his level of motivation is at its peak when people doubt him. Being moved off the Bucs roster has him supremely motivated for the 2014 season.

Williams has always played with an edge since he went in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft.

“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder ever since college. Coming out of college I had 11 receivers taken over me,” said Williams. “I’ve always said I’m going to beat all of them out every year, every team that took them over me.”

Now Williams is ready to add Tampa Bay to the list of teams he’s looking to prove wrong.

“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I’m going to go out and prove that they made a mistake and that this was a great decision with the Buffalo Bills.”


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Mike Williams fired up to play with EJ

Posted by Chris Brown on April 7, 2014 – 5:15 pm

Any receiver with Mike Williams’ skill set is going to be pretty happy to play with a strong-armed quarterback. So when asked about the prospect of playing with EJ Manuel this fall, Buffalo’s newest receiver was understandably excited.

“It’s great. It’s going to be a pleasure,” said Williams. “Looking at his college career and seeing that he never lost a bowl game. He’s a winner so to be around a guy like that and his arm strength is tremendous. I can’t wait to start working with him. Just tell him to get (the ball) out there.”

 


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Williams pleasantly stunned by trade

Posted by Chris Brown on April 7, 2014 – 5:09 pm

When Mike Williams first heard he was traded by the Bucs to the Bills just about anyone could’ve knocked him over with a feather.

“If I would’ve been standing up I probably would’ve fainted or something,” Williams told Buffalobills.com. “Actually I was sitting down when my agent called me.”

Williams wasn’t shocked he was moved in a trade. He knew with Lovie Smith as the team’s new head coach that changes were afoot and he could be one of them. He just didn’t expect to land in Buffalo.

“A lot of guys down there started getting moved around,” he said. “You always know with a new coach there was going to be change and they wanted new things.”

Williams was still pinching himself Monday at One Bills Drive after passing a physical and making the trade official. Playing for the team in the city where he grew up is still something he has yet to fully absorb.

“It’s like a dream to me. It’s a dream come true. It’s like I’m living my dream right now,” said Williams. “I feel like I’m going to wake up and be back in Tampa. It feels good to be back home and playing for the Buffalo Bills and doing what I always said I wanted to do and that’s put Buffalo back on the map.”


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Williams healthy for spring workouts

Posted by Chris Brown on April 7, 2014 – 5:05 pm

Whether it’s the start of the offseason conditioning program in a couple of weeks or OTAs in May Bills new WR Mike Williams says he’ll be healthy and full go for it all.

Williams 2013 season was cut short by a torn hamstring. He appeared in just six games last fall and missed Tampa’s Week 14 matchup with Buffalo. At a Monday afternoon press conference after the trade with the Bucs officially went through Williams said he’s fully healthy.

“I’m good,” said Williams. “I’m going to be ready for all the offseason workouts and things like that. So I’ll be 100 percent straight for that.”

 


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Marrone spoke of affinity for Williams recently

Posted by Chris Brown on April 4, 2014 – 12:36 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone was asked about Mike Williams down at the league meetings in Orlando last week. It was clear then, even before the wheels really got turning on today’s trade and Buffalo’s acquisition of Williams, that the Bills sideline boss had an affinity for the receiver as a person and a player. Here’s what he said.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Mike. I thought Mike was a heck of a football player,” said Marrone. “We had a lot of conversations. There were a lot of good things that were going on. I had obviously gotten a lot of calls before the draft that year and I told those guys that Mike would do well. We’ve been disconnected from when he left to his time in Tampa, but I liked Mike. I really did. I wish him well. I talked to Jason (Licht) just the other day to see if he was okay because I care about him.”

 


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Mike Williams has motive to play his best

Posted by Chris Brown on April 4, 2014 – 12:07 pm

Bills newest receiver Mike Williams pending the passing of a physical is the second player added to the roster who is a Buffalo native. And head coach Doug Marrone has made it obvious that’s it’s not by accident.

“I’m real big on people that want to be in Buffalo, that want to play well,” Marrone said. “What I look for are people who want to come to Buffalo and play for a cause great than themselves and play for the people and play for the region. I think that’s important. And I want players who have a chip on their shoulder with something to prove. We all have to do that. We’ve all obviously been out of the playoffs for 14 years and we’re looking for a player who plays with a chip on their shoulder.”

Marrone figures to have that in both Graham and Williams, who will be motivated to play at their best in front of family and friends every week playing for the Bills and their native city. Williams also is coming off a down season after missing most of the year with a torn hamstring, so he’ll be eager to re-establish himself as a playmaker.

“I like the fact that they’re from Buffalo,” Marrone said. “There’s a lot of added pressure when you’re playing in your own hometown.”

 


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Marrone: Williams history at ‘Cuse is just that

Posted by Chris Brown on April 4, 2014 – 12:04 pm

Mike Williams

Bills head coach Doug Marrone saw a familiar receiver added to his roster Friday, pending a physical, with the trade acquisition of WR Mike Williams from Tampa Bay. Williams played his college ball at Syracuse, but left the team prior to the 2009 season knowing he’d be facing a suspension after breaking a curfew with three other teammates. There were other off the field transgressions as well, and so Williams never played for Marrone, whose first season as head coach of the Orange was in 2009. As far as Marrone is concerned, the past is in the past. He’s giving Williams a clean slate with the Bills.

“With regard to our time at Syracuse, I feel that is in the past for both of us,” said Marrone. ” Mike has an opportunity to get a fresh start to his career here in his hometown and regain his form as a productive player in the National Football League. We look forward to getting Mike into the facility and start our work preparing for the 2014 season once the players are free to report on April 22.”

As for what Marrone feels Williams can add to the Bills passing attack, Buffalo’s sideline boss likes his stature and athletic ability.

“Mike Williams is a competitive, tough wide receiver who has the size and athleticism to add competition to our receiver position group,” said Marrone. “We feel Mike is a player who has the ability to help our team improve.”

 


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Thomas on WR Williams

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2010 – 8:48 am

Former Syracuse WR Mike Williams had his pro day here in his hometown of Buffalo earlier this week at the Thurman Thomas sports training complex. His performance has been well publicized with a 4.53 40-time and 36 1/2 inch vertical along with a 9-foot 10-inch broad jump. Bills Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas witnessed most of the workout and had the following review.

“He looked pretty good,” said Thomas. “He still needs some work. Not participating for all of his senior year hurt him a little bit. You can see the talent is there, but he was a little rusty.”

Williams did not finish his last season with the Orange as academic issues and miscommunication with head coach Doug Marrone led to his departure from the program, though Williams maintains he did not quit.  

“Mike needs someone to talk to because he’s been through a lot,” said Thomas. “That’s why I think the best situation for him would be to go to a team that has strong leadership in the locker room. A place like Baltimore with Ray Lewis or Cleveland could be good for him with a no nonsense coach like Mangini or Miami with Sparano. He’s going to need structure.”

Williams has pre-draft visits scheduled with all three of those teams along with a handful of others. In fact the Ravens receivers coach ran the route running portion of Williams’ workout in Buffalo. He’s forecast by most draft experts as a mid-round pick.

Thomas just hopes Williams is not drafted by Buffalo, believing that hangers-on in his hometown will have more access to him and be all over him and drag him down.

The National Football Post recently interviewed Williams this week by phone.


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