Roydell Williams cleared a major obstacle Monday in his long road back from ankle surgery in January.
Williams was activated by the Tennessee Titans from the physically unable to perform list, and took part Monday morning in his first practice in eight months.
“It felt good,” Williams said. “I was able to go out there and do a couple of one-on-ones, and it just knocked the spider webs off. I felt a little rusty, but it comes with the territory.”
Much has changed for the Titans since Williams broke his right ankle in January while practicing for the Titans’ first-round playoff game at San Diego. The injury required that a plate and screws be put in the ankle to help with the healing process.
In that time, Norm Chow was fired and replaced by Mike Heimerdinger, who installed a new offense in the off-season and stated numerous times that all the wide receivers in camp would not be judged on any preconceived notions or past performances.
That might be good for some of the players in camp, but Williams’ 55 catches a year ago tied Justin Gage for the team lead. In addition, Justin McCareins is at least one who has passed Williams on the depth chart for now, assuming the starting role with Gage.
For his part, Williams simply wants to catch up and not worry about falling behind.
“I didn’t think about it that way,” Williams said. “My main focus was just to get out there and try to get my ankle better and work against the defense and see how it would hold up against the guys out there.”
At least Williams has the advantage that his position coach Fred Graves remembers what he accomplished a year ago in a breakout season.
“He’s right in it. All of them are in it. There’s no set things in stone,” Graves said. “All the guys are in it. A few of the guys played for us last year and played well for us. We’ll look at everybody.”
Williams has plenty of catching up to do after watching for months while others learned Heimerdinger’s offense by doing.
“I’ve been watching for about three months now. It’s time to get out there and run some of it,” Williams said.
Graves said Williams should be able to catch up, even though he will be eased into drills slowly.
“I look at it, and as far as the assignment part, I don’t have a problem with Roydell. He’s a bright guy,” Graves said. “He understands, and he can adjust. It’s the little technique stuff that you’ve got to get reps on. I think that’s the key part that we’re trying to look at along with conditioning.”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher expects Williams in time to return to the type of production he had a year ago.
“It’s hard to say [he’ll be going full speed], but he has been conditioning,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “He knows what to do and it’s just a matter of him getting his legs back under him. Once he returns and he’s healthy, he should be right back to where he was last year, if not better.”
Even with the conditioning and getting back into the flow, Williams expects there will be pain the ankle all season long. The screws are not expected to be removed until next off-season.
“Most likely, I’ll have to play with a little pain. In the NFL, it’s more of what you can play with,” Williams said. “Everyone’s hurting out there. You just have to suck it up and go out and play.
“I’ve been nicked up, and that’s just one of the things I’ve learned to do is just deal with the pain and go out and make plays, just concentrate on my assignment and do everything right and try to get a win.”
Fisher said it was likely that Williams would be limited in contact work once the St. Louis Rams come in to town for practices Wednesday and Thursday.
ALSO BACK: Roydell wasn’t the only Williams to return to the practice field Monday.
The Titans removed seventh-round pick Cary Williams from the non-football injury list, and he practiced for the first time in training camp.
Williams was a full participant in all drills. He had suffered a quadriceps injury between the June OTAs and the start of camp while working on his own.