OXNARD, Calif. – A rough start to training camp? Hey, it happens for a rookie.
Struggling at the start of his routes? That makes it hard for an NFL receiver to succeed.
Baylor’s Terrance Williams, one of the Cowboys’ third-round picks, admits he stumbled out of the blocks during the first couple of days of camp. But those timid practice performances seem like a long time ago now that Williams has flashed his playmaking potential in recent days.
“I was nervous toward the beginning,” said Williams, whom the Cowboys ranked as the No. 23 player in the draft. “But I’m getting better day by day. The goal is not to take a step back, but to keep going forward.”
It’s the first few steps of his routes that are the key to Williams making a major impact as a rookie.
There’s no question that the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Williams has the ability to be a deep threat. He led the nation with 1,832 yards as a Baylor senior, averaging 18.9 yards per catch. He’s provided glimpses of his ball skills and ability to get deep during camp.
The challenge for Williams, who should see a ton of single coverage as the Cowboys’ third receiver, is getting off the line of scrimmage against cornerbacks who are stronger, smarter, faster and tougher than the dudes he torched in the Big 12.
“He has an ability to really put pressure on the top of the defense,” receivers coach Derek Dooley said. “It’s what we loved about him at Baylor, just how he could really generate some explosive plays off the field, because he’s explosive off the ball, he’s fast and he’s a good target. When he’s on the move and he’s down the field, he really can apply some pressure, and he’s doing that out here.
“What he’s got to work on is what every rookie has to work on. Those first five yards are really difficult at this level against great corners, so learning how to beat press and then learning how to do it over and over again, that’s probably the biggest challenge for these young guys.”
If Williams can master beating press, opposing corners might be the nervous ones.