Williams hopes to make most of new start with Raiders Print
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Wednesday, 02 May 2007 10:05
NFL Headline News

 ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -Mike Williams heard all the disparaging comments about his work ethic, his weight and his ability as he wallowed on the bench with the Detroit Lions.
The former college superstar and can't-miss NFL receiving prospect fell so far last year that he was behind a backup quarterback on Detroit's depth chart.
``For some reason, I was labeled fat, lazy, or this, a pot smoker, or whatever else was said,'' Williams said after being traded to the Oakland Raiders. ``And that was the farthest thing from it.''
Williams takes some blame for being late to meetings and clashing with coaches. But whatever the other resons for his failure in Detroit, he knows that the draft-day trade to Oakland gives him what could be a final chance to prove himself as an NFL receiver.
``Getting trading was the best news I've had in, I can't remember,'' Williams said. ``I never failed on any level of football. I feel like my first couple of years at Detroit I look at as kind of a failure. I failed at it for numerous reasons. Now, you just put it behind you and learn from it.''
The deal reunites Williams with Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, who persuaded Williams to leave Florida to attend Southern California and then coached him for two years with the Trojans.
Williams even called Kiffin at times the past two years to discuss his troubles in Detroit, a sign of the close relationship between player and coach that was lacking in Detroit.
Williams reported to the Raiders' facility Sunday, the day after he was acquired with quarterback Josh McCown for a fourth-round draft pick. Oakland then dealt its own disgruntled receiver, Randy Moss, to New England, giving Williams a chance to earn playing time.
``This is Mike's chance,'' Kiffin said. ``However you want to phrase it, he's blown a chance. I think that he would tell you the same thing. Whether he feels it was his fault or not, it was an opportunity that didn't work out the way it could. There are a lot of doubters.''
There were few people who doubted Williams' ability when he tried to follow Maurice Clarett into the 2004 NFL draft following a favorable court ruling. But an appeals court overturned the earlier ruling and upheld the league's right to bar players who had been out of high school less than three years.
Unable to return to college because he had signed with an agent, Williams had to sit out in 2004.
When he was drafted the following year with the 10th pick, he couldn't understand why the Lions chose him after using top 10 picks the previous two years on receivers Charles Rogers and Roy Williams.
``It didn't make sense to me from the get-go,'' he said. ``It's probably my fault from that point.''
Williams had 29 catches for 350 yards and one touchdown as a rookie underSteve Mariucci, who had to fine his receiver for being late to meetings.
Mariucci was fired - a move Williams said ``broke my heart'' - and Williams' situation got worse. Rod Marinelli took over and brought in Mike Martz as his offensive coordinator.
Williams said Martz told him right away that he was not his type of receiver and the two clashed immediately. Williams played sparingly last season, making eight catches for 99 yards and one touchdown.
've been drafted all over again.''
Williams was fined for being heavier than the team's weight targets for him, even though he said they wanted him to be a weight - 220 pounds - he hasn't been at since his sophomore year in high school. Kiffin said Williams weighed 242 pounds in his final college game and said he appears to be close to that weight now.
Williams spent most of last season on the scout team, leading to even more frustration. His teammates in Detroit could see it affect his work ethic.
``When a guy doesn't really feel comfortable or doesn't want to be somewhere, this is life in general at any job, people don't work very hard,'' McCown said. ``I think a fresh start for anybody is exciting, so I look for big things from Mike. I think it's a perfect thing for him.''
Williams finalized his ticket out of Detroit when he left the offseason workout program and asked for a trade.
``He never showed up,'' Lions president Matt Millen said after the trade. ``So this is the best for him, and it's the best for us. And it's a shame because he has great abilities.''
That ability helped him catch 30 touchdown passes in two seasons at USC, including a one-handed grab against Oregon State in 2003 that is still shown on highlight reels.
It's that ability that led the Raiders to take a flyer on Williams in a low-risk deal. They have him locked up for three years at a favorable salary or can cut him with no salary cap hit if he doesn't work out.
``I'm in the position of where it's kind of make or break,'' Williams said. ``I've got a lot prove and I've got to make a statement in this league as a player. I'm glad to have a a fresh start to do that.''
 

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