Ryan Williams knows there are people who doubt he can return to form this season after his patella tendon ruptured last year, ruining his rookie season. He knows, ultimately, he can’t prove anything until the season starts.
“I kind of feel like the most anticipated player of the year, and (fans) haven’t even seen anything but a couple weeks of training camp,” the running back said.
Williams is the guy who craves football. His biggest fear isn’t coming back from this injury, but being cut from the team. The rehab is just another hurdle in a life full of hurdles. Williams isn’t going to guarantee anything, but he comes about as close to that line as he can without stepping over, and he acknowledges his confidence in what he can do in 2012 is plentiful.
“Nothing was ever easy for me,” Williams said. “Coming from where I came from, I had to get out of that area. … I was the one who always had to prove to everyone not to put me on the backburner. Don’t doubt me and I will make you a fan. I had to work my butt off for everything.
“This situation, I’m not going to say it was fun to go through, but it’s nothing. I believe in myself and I believe I will be back. I asked (head athletic trainer) Tom (Reed), and I trust Tom and I feel he will be honest with me, and I asked, ‘Do you think I will be 100 percent?’ He said ‘I feel you will be better than you were before.’ “
Now, part of Reed’s job is helping players mentally return as much as physically. Encouragement is part of the process. But Williams clearly believes in himself.
“I still have time,” Williams said. “I am running and cutting and doing things I didn’t think I’d be doing this early. I’m not worried about it.”
The Cardinals must have confidence. Even though Williams went through what he went through — and starter Beanie Wells is still rehabbing from his own knee surgery — the Cards didn’t draft a running back nor sign an undrafted rookie. There’s always a chance that could come (it seems likely the Cards will at least get another body for OTAs and maybe minicamp) but there has to be a belief Williams will be there by camp and ready to go.
“Coach (John) Lott always puts a bug in my ear,” Williams said. “He keeps it honest too. He said, ‘If you don’t take this opportunity and take it full throttle, I promise next year we are going to (draft) a running back. If you do, we won’t see another running back for a couple years. It’s up to you.’ Some people get nervous with stuff like that, but not me. I love challenges like that.
“Man, I’m not worried at all. I’m telling you, I feel so good about what’s about to happen this year, no one can tell me different.”
Tags: Beanie Wells, John Lott, Ryan Williams, Tom Reed
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