No one has ever really doubted Dan Williams’ ability to play football.
They have, though, doubted his ability to stay in shape.
The Arizona Cardinals’ defensive tackle, who is heading into his fourth NFL season, has battled with his conditioning almost from the moment the team drafted him 26th overall in 2010. This year is different.
This year he’s in shape and ready to go.
“The last two years I’ve been coming in in good shape, especially after the lockout,” he told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Thursday.
Williams admitted he was not ready for the 2011 season to begin when it did, thinking the NFL’s lockout would go on longer and the season may end up not happening at all.
“I really didn’t think we would have a season, but then I did learn from that offseason that I need to be prepared at all times,” he said. “After that I was like, ‘I’ll never be caught in that situation again.'”
Williams said he’s come into camp in shape every season in which he knew there would be a season, but not doing so a couple years ago earned him a reputation he is looking to shake.
So now, the 26-year-old who measures in at 6-foot-3 and 314 pounds is expected to help anchor the Cardinals’ defensive line in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ scheme.
It’s a challenge he’s up for.
“I feel like I could do more,” he said, adding that he is disappointed in how his first three seasons have gone, with the team missing the postseason each and every one of them. “My belief is that I could do more, I could help the team more.”
Williams has tallied 102 combined tackles along with five passes defensed, numbers that are not exactly eye-popping but show what his role on the defense has been. A nose tackle, his job has been to occupy blockers and allow his teammates to go and make plays.
And also to stop the run, which is what he said haunts him the most from last season.
“The 28th (ranking) in run is a personal reflection on myself and my play,” he said. “So it’s just the fact that I just kind of took it to heart this offseason; I’ve been working hard.
“I think I need to step it up a little bit more than how I’ve been playing.”