Keiland Williams glad the call never came
Running back Keiland Williams was still in his hotel room 30 minutes before the start of Redskins practice on Saturday. Still watching his phone, hoping it didn't ring.
His teammates called with news they had been cut or were headed to the practice squad, but Williams's phone wasn't ringing. Somebody finally told him that was a good thing, and the rookie realized he should probably get to practice.
"I was like, maybe I really need to get myself up there," Williams said.
An undrafted free agent out of LSU, Williams impressed coaches throughout the preseason with his versatility. He was a strong runner, caught the ball well out of the backfield and was solid in pass protection.
Williams did enough to beat out former Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowler Willie Parker and Ryan Torain, a back who had been among Coach Mike Shanahan's favorites in Denver, for the third running back spot on the 53-man roster behind starter Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson.
"It's all very, very close and hopefully he can stay on that 53 by playing good once the season starts," Shanahan said. "But he did pretty good in blitz pick-up, he can run the football, he can catch the ball and he's a heady kid. Very few times you find a guy that young that comes in and plays that well consistently in practice and the games."
For Williams, coming into a situation in Washington where he would be behind three established veterans, as well as Torain, was something he felt he could overcome. At LSU, Williams was part of a crowded backfield and did not see the bulk of the carries. He started just three games and rushed for 1,699 yards on 299 carries with 17 touchdowns in his career. Being in a situation where he faced constant competition for reps prepared him for how to mentally approach this summer's camp, Williams said.
"Just being a competitor I don't feel like I've ever went into a situation and just felt like I couldn't come out on top," Williams said. "So I mean, knowing what's here in a situation like that where there are guys in front of you, you can't worry about other guys. You just have to take care of your business and worry about yourself."
Making the roster was just the first step, Williams said. "Now the next step is being a factor on this team and someone the coaches can look to if they need a play made," he said.
But while Williams has shown he quickly adjusted to the professional level, he clearly fumbled cut day. After waiting so long in his hotel room, Williams forgot to call his mother to share the good news.
"My mom was kind of upset that I didn't call her. I didn't really know until really the last minute, like I said 30 minutes before practice," he said. "Then I had practice so that took a couple hours and then by then I had a lot of calls and a lot of text messages. She was like, 'Why didn't you call and tell me.' And I was like, 'I didn't know myself and I'm just getting out of practice but yeah, hey, I made it.'"
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