With Gillislee gone and McCoy out, Williams gets shot as top RB in Bills offense

June 13, 2017 - 2:45 pm
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Less than two months ago, Jonathan Williams was the third string running back on the Bills depth chart. Then the Bills declined to match the Patriots’ offer for restricted free agent Mike Gillislee and Williams became the main backup to LeSean McCoy.

Tuesday, he found himself in the lead role, getting the majority of reps with the first-team offense, after McCoy missed the first day of mandatory minicamp with a stomach virus. 

“This is something that could happen during the season,” Williams said about his sudden opportunity. “You never know with the running back position, you know how physical it is.  It could be an injury, or it could be an illness or something like that and the guys have to step up. So this is an opportunity for me to get used to maybe having to do that one day, one game.”

The Arkansas product played in only 11 games last year after being selected in the fifth round. He carried tha ball only 27 times for 94 yards, scoring one touchdown.  And that was after missing his entire senior season of college with a knee injury. But he said that experience of missing a full season taught him how to deal with sitting out and being patient, waiting for his chance.

“The experience.  That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “Coming out of a season I missed in college and going up to a level where, this is the top level, and I missed a year and it was fast paced, trying to just listen to plays again and everything and get caught back up on that. So I had a year to adjust and learn from a lot of good guys in that locker room, so I’m definitely excited.”

The person in the locker room Williams credits most for helping him? The starter ahead of him. 

“Every day I’m just coming to work, learning from guys in the locker room," he said. "LeSean is a great guy. A great professional on and off the football field. So, every day I’m just learning from him.”

In fact, Williams wants his game to emulate McCoy’s both in the run game and passing game. “Shady is someone I learn a lot from,” he reiterated. “I keep bringing him up a lot, but he’s a guy that, he’s a playmaker, he’s not just a running back. He can run the ball in between the tackles (and) outside.  He can line up outside and threaten the defense there.  So it’s just about matches. How can you create a matchup? If I can flex outside and run a route and catch the ball on third down and things like that, then that will just help the team out.”

Williams may be getting plenty of chances to show the coaches he can do all that this week.


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