Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer 22d

Chargers coordinator Ken Whisenhunt showing patience with Mike Williams

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Through three games, rookie receiver Mike Williams has not had the impact expected of a high first-round selection.

The Clemson product, drafted No. 7 overall, has played a total of 43 snaps. He's been targeted just five times, with two receptions for 22 yards.

One of the reasons for Williams' slow start has been the talented receivers playing in front of him, including Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin, limiting his ability to consistently get into the rotation on offense.

Williams played a season-high 20 snaps against the New England Patriots, but was targeted just two times.

However, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said NFL observers have to pump the brakes on early expectations for Williams. Receiver is one of the harder transitions to make at the NFL level. And that transition has been made more difficult because Williams missed offseason work and training camp with a disc herniation in his lower back.

Add in the fact the Los Angeles Chargers execute one of the more complex offenses in the league and Williams still has to earn the trust of Philip Rivers knowing the Clemson product will be where he's supposed to be, and it's understandable the rookie receiver is off to a slow start.

"He's making strides," Whisenhunt said. "But there's no way you can learn the technique of press coverage or how you have to get inside a defender and how you break out of a route down the field without doing it. It's just like anything. That's all part of it, and Mike is learning.

"It's really easy to stand behind the huddle, stand behind the line and have the play and know what the play is and look at it and say, 'Oh, OK, I should do that.' But there's a difference between when you're sitting there and the guy is right in front of you and you're trying to decide, 'Oh my gosh, what do I have? What's my adjustment? Who do I block?' Those are all things that you have to go through as a young player. And Mike is doing a good job with that. You know that because he was such a good player in college, but it's a big jump to this league, and he is coming on."

Though Whisenhunt emphasized that Williams is a quick study and learning the offense quickly, the only way he's going to become more comfortable in the offense is through live reps in practice and in games.

"The biggest thing for him now, and one of the things I've been the most impressed [with] is if you've watched, he's played a number of different positions," Whisenhunt said. "It's not just line up at the X [position]. He was in the slot a couple of times in the game. He was on the single receiver side once or twice. He was as the X a couple of times.

"That's not easy. Each one of those positions has its own different techniques that you have to be prepared for, or their own different responsibilities that you have to do, and that's a lot for a young guy. Our guys are great because they help him out on the field all the time, but there's no substitute for getting that experience, and he's getting better. He'll get more opportunities as we go forward just because he's got that ability to make some plays."

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