|Williamson gets second chance with Jags|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 07 June 2008 10:47|
He wasn't doing any speed drills. He wasn't working on getting off the line of scrimmage. And he wasn't running routes.
He was catching passes - the thing that haunted him in Minnesota and caused him to seek a fresh start with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But guess what? Williamson caught them all. In fact, he has caught just about everything thrown his way during Jacksonville's two-day camp and since the team began offseason workouts last month.
``It's just a big weight lifted off him, all that pressure,'' receivers coach Todd Monken said. ``It's still early, but we've been pleasantly surprised.''
The Jaguars traded a sixth-round draft pick for Williamson, the seventh overall pick in the 2005 draft. Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio figured he was taking a low-risk chance on a player with proven speed who might just need a change of scenery.
Now, the Jaguars might just have the kind of legitimate deep threat missing since Jimmy Smith retired two years ago.
``He looks like a heck of a sixth-round pick,'' Del Rio said. ``He's really had a good offseason for us. Obviously, we got him here with lowered expectations. He can just come in here and play football and have fun.''
Williamson didn't have much fun in Minnesota.
He was supposed to be the heir apparent to Randy Moss after the Vikings traded Moss to Oakland in March 2005. But Williamson struggled. He had 79 receptions for 1,067 yards and three touchdowns in three disappointing, drop-filled seasons.
He had hoped to turn things around last year. He visited a vision specialist and caught an estimated 20,000 balls in the offseason.
Although the Vikings were pleased with his work ethic, it never paid off. Williamson finished with 18 receptions for 240 yards and had more glaring gaffes. The most notable one came in the season finale against Denver when he misjudged what would have been a 72-yard score and dropped the ball without a defender in sight.
Minnesota traded him three months later, seemingly willing to unload him for just about anything.
Williamson was relieved.
``I'd say it was very important because it was getting very intense up there as far as me and the head coach and some of the other coaches,'' Williamson said. ``I feel like I just need to play football, be me and be comfortable in the situation.
``I had some good times in Minnesota. I can talk highly, but it can also go both ways. I'm here now and Minnesota is in the past. It's time to get to work and do what I have to do to help the team.''
The Jaguars could use the help.
Although Reggie Williams and Dennis Northcutt were solid last season, the receiving corps has been lackluster since Smith's retirement.
Former first-round pick Matt Jones has shown little improvement in three seasons. Ernest Wilford was allowed to leave in free agency. And Mike Walker, a third-round pick in 2007 who missed all of last year, has spent most of the offseason on the sideline with a lingering knee injury.
Even Jerry Porter, a big-name free agent signed to be the team's go-to receiver, has been slowed the last few weeks because of a hamstring injury.
Williamson, meanwhile, has stood out.
``We heard through the offseason that he was a little suspect with his hands and he really has not been this whole camp,'' quarterback David Garrard said. ``He's catching everything. He's been doing a great job. He's so smooth and fluid that he barely looks like he is running, but he's always running right by somebody.''
And hanging onto the ball.
``I just want to come in with a clean slate and play football, be happy doing that,'' Williamson said. ``Everything else will fall in line if I make every play I'm supposed to make and some of the plays I'm not.''