Stephen Williams was one of the stars of training camp, 2010. The undrafted Toledo product caught everyone’s eye in Flagstaff and ended up making the roster. He played a little as a rookie too. This year, not so much.
Williams has been healthy all season but has been active on game day only two times in 11 games. He has no receptions, and now, the Cardinals promoted wide receiver Jaymar Johnson from the practice squad to give the Cards seven receivers available on Sundays. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the dynamic with the receivers hasn’t changed even with Johnson. Whisenhunt added the promotion does not necessarily mean Johnson will be active for any games. He also said Williams was hampered by the lockout.
“(Stephen) didn’t have an offseason, we didn’t have a chance to work with him,” Whisenhunt said. “He does some good things in practice; it’s (lack of) consistency and that’s what you will always face with a young guy until you have a chance to work with him in the offseason.”
Williams doesn’t really play special teams — he’s not going to beat out LaRod Stephens-Howling as a return man, and he doesn’t stand out as a blocker or coverage guy. That means he is working uphill when he would be, at best, a fourth receiver. It’s one of the reasons DeMarco Sampson has stayed ahead of him. He’s not going to be a slot receiver, which is why Chansi Stuckey has played ahead of him.
Williams admitted he is frustrated, but, reading into Whisenhunt’s comments, it’s clear extra work is needed for Williams to take the next step (in-season, that work for guys lower on the depth chart just doesn’t exist as teams prep for games every week). He will be an exclusive rights free agent after the season, and I expect the Cardinals to tender him and bring him back for camp next year. He’ll get his offseason. And next year’s training camp will be a very important one for Williams’ future in Arizona.
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