Tight end D.J. Williams looking to stick with Patriots after finding new attitude
|07.30.14 at 8:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — D.J. Williams badly wants to find a home in the NFL with the Patriots. And he thinks a fresh attitude might just be the key.
The 25-year-old tight end has already been in the NFL for three years, with the Patriots serving as his third team. After being cut three times last season – including once by the Patriots – and having only nine career catches and no touchdowns, Williams figured in the offseason that a fresh outlook and approach couldn’t hurt his chances of finally making a roster to stay.
“It came with sitting on the couch for a couple of weeks not having a job waiting on a phone call,” Williams said after practice on Wednesday. “I don’t want to be that guy who is sitting at home saying he didn’t get his chance because of a hamstring or anything like that. I want to say I gave it my best, everything I had and it didn’t work out, but I couldn’t say that. I don’t want to let that opportunity slip through my hands again.”
After being drafted by the Packers out of the University of Arkansas in the fifth-round in 2011, he was cut before the start of the 2013 season and picked up by the Jaguars. He didn’t record a catch in seven games with Jacksonville and was let go.
With injuries at tight end the Patriots claimed Williams in late November, but after just one game he was let go once again as fellow tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was deemed healthy again. Then, a week after being cut he was re-signed when Rob Gronkowski went down with a season-ending ACL tear.
This brings Williams to his fourth training camp looking to make the most of yet another chance.
“I have the attitude now after being cut three times in one year — you stop pointing fingers saying this guy got paid, it didn’t work out in this system — the only person that has anything to do with it I found out is myself,” Williams said. “Looking back at it, I got comfortable. That is a terrible thing to do. Once I realized it was all my fault I stopped beating myself each and everyday. I approach everyday as a new day that you can get better and I don’t want to beat myself anymore.”
After working out for much of the offseason with fullback James Develin, a player he became close with in his short time with the organization last year, Williams is ready to compete for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
“It was intense. I got together with my boy James Devlin. We were in the weight room getting after it and when we were away from each other we were sending video messages to each other seeing who could lift more weight,” he said. “He has me right now.”
With the team not having a true backup for Gronkowski, Williams is looking to be that guy as he is versatile in the fact he can both block and catch passes well. Currently the Patriots have five tight ends on the roster, with two rookies — Justin Jones and Asa Watson. In all likelihood the team will carry two or three tight ends on the final 53-man roster, so with Hoomanawanui missing the last two days of practice, Williams could have an upper hand at making the team.
“I’ve started to learn you can’t control the hand that is dealt, you can just control how well you play,” Williams said. “I am here now. I really love the system and I am going to do my best to make sure I can be as productive as I can not for myself, but for the team.”
Williams, who when was signed last season compared the offense to a attractive Hispanic lady, with his new approach on the game could be primed for his best season yet.