Cardinals’ Garrett Williams eyeing full return to action sooner than later
Oct 4, 2023, 4:37 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2023, 3:58 pm
TEMPE — Throughout his Arizona Cardinals tenure, rookie cornerback Garrett Williams has spent most of his time off to the side rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in college.
That all changed Wednesday, however, with Arizona designating the 2023 third-round pick for return from the non-football injury list.
Williams took the Tempe practice fields alongside his teammates for the first time as a pro. It’s been a long journey since going down last October.
“It’s been about 11 months in the making,” Williams said Wednesday. “I thought I’d be here with the guys and have a practice jersey on. It’s a lot of fun.
“I felt comfortable out there just back doing what I do. That’s why I’m here. It felt good. No pressure, no stress, a lot of excitement.”
Originally expected to be cleared in July, it’s been a long time coming for Williams.
While the goalposts moved on the initial timeline, Williams remained locked in on what he could accomplish away from the field in an effort to be ready.
“I feel like the whole time I was here I did a good job taking all the right mental reps and asking questions and things like that,” Williams said. “I know the physical part of it will kind of just come along with time.
“I’m just trying to keep building, keep stacking and just get more comfortable with the calls and just playing football again. No complaints out of me first day.”
“He’s a pro, he’s extremely smart, he loves the game and he works his tail off.”#AZCardinals DC Nick Rallis had nothing but good things to say about rookie CB Garrett Williams, who continues to work his way back from a torn ACL suffered last year, on Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/yaDJXdCTHH
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) October 3, 2023
Being designated for return is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. It’s far from the only one, though, as Williams still has to be activated off the NFI list to suit up on game days.
The cornerback didn’t go as far as to give a specific date — head coach Jonathan Gannon is taking a day-by-day approach — but made it known his intentions of fully returning to the mix as soon as he can.
“Not months,” he said when asked if he was weeks or months away. “I waited enough months.”
His answer is a good sign for a Cardinals team in need of some added depth at the position after Arizona released both Christian Matthew and Kris Boyd on Monday.
Ahead of the team’s Week 5 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cardinals currently have Marco Wilson, fellow rookie Kei’Trel Clark, Antonio Hamilton Sr. and Starling Thomas V, who has yet to play in 2023.
Getting Williams up to speed could go a long way not only this season but also moving into the future.
And luckily for the rookie, he’s got a prime avenue to bounce information off of in Clark.
So far this season, Clark has appeared in 99% of the team’s available defensive snaps as he continues to learn on the job.
Although Williams hasn’t seen any game reps just yet, he’s picking up valuable pointers from the young starter and vice versa.
“Kei’Trel, that’s my dog. We’re going through it together,” Williams said. “We sit beside each other on the plane to the games away.
“After every game, me and him watch the film together and we talk about it on the flight home just trying to pick each other’s brains on how we see things. Hearing a different perspective always helps, too.”