OXNARD, Calif. — Monday is the first day Cowboys players can wear pads. After four days in what the NFL calls a “ramp-up period” where players work in helmets and jerseys, the real football begins now.
Sam Williams is ready.
The Cowboys’ second-round pick showed power and speed working primarily with the second team as a right defensive end early in training camp.
Micah Parsons, the talented Cowboys linebacker, describes what he saw at Williams in his playful way.
“I see a guy who just got here,” Parsons said with a laugh. “He’s crazy, but I think the guy is going to have a huge impact this year. He is young, ready to go. Has a lot of tenacity going for him. He’s strong – super strong. I think he’s going to have a big impact this year.
When the Cowboys selected Williams in the second round, it was to create more depth on a defensive front still looking for more talent. When Randy Gregory left for Denver in free agency, the Cowboys re-signed Dorance Armstrong as the other starting defensive end facing DeMarcus Lawrence.
What they get at Williams isn’t fully known until the games start, but during the build-up period everyone was happy with the effort.
And that includes Williams himself, who doesn’t settle.
“When I got here I just gutted, we call it a toolbox,” Williams said. “I just basically gutted it. I know nothing, and I fill it with the knowledge, with the stuff during the break [before training camp] what I learned from [athletic] coaches, defensive specialist, DQ, and now it feels like my toolbox is full. And during game time, whatever tool I need, I’m going to use it at that time.
DQ is Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and Williams watched from afar what he did with Parsons last season.
All Parsons did was be named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and take over the league for part of the season. The Cowboys don’t expect Parsons to slow down, and Williams hopes he can emerge as a talented force in his rookie season in the same way.
“To be honest, I don’t look at anyone’s past,” he said. “I try to be the best version of myself. I’m going to be me. If I’m me, I can go out and compete every day and everything else will take care of itself. As long as the team wins, I won.
During the offseason, Williams spent time with his son, Sam Jr., sending him to Lifetime Fitness daycare in Frisco while he lifted weights. Williams said he added weight — he’s listed at 261 pounds — and basically stayed in the house.
He is new to Texas, having grown up in Alabama and attended college at Ole Miss. Williams joked that he didn’t know anyone outside of his teammates.
Williams made a plea, jokingly, to the television cameras he needed to find new friends.
If Williams produces on the field in 2022, which the Cowboys expect, he will have no problem doing so. The most important thing for Williams is to get into an onboard rotation with Armstrong and keep pushing the pocket.
The Cowboys want to use a rotation of defensive linemen, with the ability to keep 10 total, with maybe six point rushers.
Causing quarterbacks trouble is paramount to the success of an edge rusher. It’s why Williams was considered an elite prospect coming out of Ole Miss this spring and why the Cowboys quickly nabbed him in the second round.
“I’ve put on a few pounds. Other than that, I’ve been working on my pass rush moves and critiquing some areas that I want to improve,” Williams said. passes perfect, so there is always room to work. But I’m always ready to learn something new and improve in my job.
Find more Cowboys coverage from the Dallas Morning News here.