It's not the path Williams anticipated taking after being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, but nothing has been easy for Williams in his NFL career. He played only five games in three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals -- which is why he's still eligible for the practice squad -- due to serious knee and shoulder injuries.
After being cut by the Cardinals, Williams was thrilled to get a shot to resuscitate his career with the Cowboys. That's still the case despite being one of the final cuts as Dallas trimmed its roster to 53 players.
"I can wake up every day and be happy coming to work and not somewhere I feel I'm not wanted," Williams said. "I feel all the players in this organization, from top to bottom, whether you're a Tony Romo or a Ryan Williams, you're going to get respected, you're going to get coached, and you're going to get an opportunity to show your stuff.
"I signed in the spring and all I started with was a shot. They gave me a shot and I ran with it and landed me a spot on practice squad and hopefully I can move up to the 53."
Williams performed well during the preseason, running with power, speed and elusiveness. As head coach Jason Garrett said, Williams showed why he was such a high draft pick.
But Joseph Randle also impressed the coaches and has proven that he can contribute on special teams, a critical part of the third running back's job description.
As a result, Williams got caught in a numbers game. He said he wasn't surprised -- or upset -- that no other team claimed him on waivers, understanding that his injury history frightens front offices.
"I can't get mad at that," Williams said. "This preseason, I shut a lot of people up. I shut a lot of doubters up. I closed a lot of questions. I just have to be patient. I know my time is coming. I've worked too hard for my time not to come. Everybody will see 34 again."