GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dan Williams is listed at 6-foot-3, 314 pounds.
A defensive tackle, he’s not really expected to be particularly svelte.
But he does need to be in shape.
And in shape he is.
“I thought Dan Williams looked as sexy in a run test as he’s ever looked,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Friday.
Well how about that.
“It felt good, I take it as a complement,” Williams said of his coach’s praise. “It’s just the first step of the journey the team wants to take, so I just wanted to show coach that I was prepared and ready to give my all for the team.”
It’s a far cry from this time in 2011 when, after the lockout left every player unsure of whether or not there would even be a season, Williams came into camp out of shape and failed the test.
“Just as a professional I was young,” he said. “I was just expecting to not have a season, but we did. I should have been prepared anyway. But every year I’ve been passing the conditioning test, ever since then. It might not be the prettiest, but I definitely have been working out every offseason and I just think it was definitely just a maturity factor for me. At first I didn’t really know what to expect. They start telling me they’re going to ask more of me each and every year, and I think every year I’ve answered the challenge.”
Williams, entering his fifth season, has not yet quite lived up to the expectations placed on him as a first-round pick out of Tennessee.
He took a step forward last season with his play, earning his first career sack and interception. While his stats are not exactly impressive, his role in the defense is more to stuff the run and occupy blockers so the team’s defensive ends and linebackers can make plays. He did that well in 2013, and with Alameda Ta’amu still recovering from a torn ACL, will be leaned on even more to hold things together in the middle of the line.
Williams is confident he can handle the job.
“I believe even before ‘Meda came here I’ve been more than capable of taking on the responsibility, but also having a great player like ‘Meda to play there with me is an added bonus, get a little bit more rest,” he said.
“But I’ve been ready for the challenge since I’ve been here. Honestly just been really waiting on the opportunity to play more and do more for the team.”