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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Following the update on the rehab of running back Ryan Williams, I also had a chance to catch up to the Cards’ other key figure who lost the season because of injury: cornerback Greg Toler. Toler tore his ACL in the third preseason game against the Chargers, the first major injury he had ever suffered.
Toler has been at the facility daily, getting treatment and working on the bike or doing some jogging. Toler said head athletic trainer Tom Reed said his knee was around 75 to 80 percent right now and the lateral movement is now the focus. Toler said he will “definitely” be back for training camp.
“I’m trying tp push it before then but Tom said he didn’t want to put too much wear and tear on the ligament,” Toler said.
Toler was in line to start before going down with the injury (it would have been interesting to know how the secondary would have played out had Toler stayed healthy, because it was Patrick Peterson as the third corner and Richard Marshall as the fourth at that point, with A.J. Jefferson starting). He insists the process of coming back has made him a stronger person.
“I’ve always been athletic and never been slowed down (because of injury),” Toler said. “I’ve never been hurt to the point where you have to put in some work or you don’t come back from an injury like that. It makes you value every second you are out there.”
Toler isn’t unaware of the strides the defense made during the season — “We looked good and I was happy to see that,” he said — but he knows he is far behind the learning curve for a scheme it took most guys half the season and a lot of playing time to understand. “I will try to learn as fast as I can,” Toler added.
He should get that chance. Toler’s contract is up, although he is a restricted free agent and he is expected to be tendered an offer by the Cards.
“I would love to be here,” he said. “I love all the coaches. I would like to stay a Cardinal. It’s all I know.”
Tags: Greg Toler, Tom Reed
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The Cardinals’ injury list was a little longer than normal, topped by the two banged-up running backs — LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring) and Jason Wright (concussion) — sitting out.
Stephens-Howling dealt with a hamstring issue last season. He said he hoped to play Sunday but certainly wasn’t sounding sure of it. Wright, meanwhile, said he didn’t pass his first neurological exam Tuesday but will take one again tomorrow. Wright said he has had some minor concussions before but “this is new.”
“I was out the moment he hit me,” Wright said. “I remember (the hit). It was the last thing I saw. Then 10 minutes later on the bench, I was asking Beanie (Wells) why he wasn’t dressed. He was like, ‘Uh, Tom (Reed, head athletic trainer)?’ ”
— The “limited” included two newcomers. Cornerback Greg Toler now has a foot injury. Nose tackle Dan Williams has a calf issue. The other limited players all have been nursing their ailments: DT Darnell Dockett (shoulder), LB Clark Haggans (groin) and RB Beanie Wells (knee). Wells actually said he feels the best he has since before suffering his knee injury in the preseason.
— Mostly, the talk of the day was about Chiefs coach Todd Haley, who was the Cards’ offensive coordinator in 2007-08 and will be facing his former team for the first time. Not that he or coach Ken Whisenhunt — who coached together with Haley as lower-end assistants back with the Jets in 2000 to begin a friendship — are thinking about that too much. “There are a ton of people back there I care for,” Haley said. “But my focus is on the Chiefs.”
Tags: Beanie Wells, Clark Haggans, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Greg Toler, Jason Wright, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Todd Haley, Tom Reed
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Wide receiver Early Doucet’s first reaction when head athletic trainer Tom Reed told him he had two fractured ribs after the Green Bay game? “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Injuries had derailed his rookie season, derailed most of his training camp, and here was another one.
But Doucet is feeling more optimistic after his latest injury. He said he originally thought he’d be out a month, but is now targeting a likely return against Jacksonville next week. Playing with the injury – and the pain – isn’t the problem with Doucet. It’s the fact that the wrong hit could puncture a lung or his heart.
As for his drop of the potential game-winning two-point conversion (pictured below) in that game while playing with the broken ribs, Doucet said it was hard to breathe, especially with the Cards running the two-minute offense.
“But I should have made the catch,” Doucet added. “I am kind of glad it happened in the preseason and not the regular season. Get that one drop out of the way.”
Tags: Early Doucet, Jaguars, Packers, Tom Reed
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