Injuries give Dan Williams chance to prove he's more than a NT

TEMPE, Ariz. -- For the past two games, whenever Dan Williams looked around at the line of scrimmage, he didn’t see a single teammate who was in the trenches with him at the end of the last season.

Injuries, suspensions and free agency reduced the starting front seven from Week 17 last year to just Williams. That may change this week if defensive end Calais Campbell returns, but for now, Williams has been the lone holdover. While the Cardinals haven’t missed a beat -- their run defense leads the league in fewest yards per game and is No. 2 in fewest yards per run -- Williams has been given more opportunities to prove he’s more than just a 314-pound nose tackle.

“[It’s been] a chance to do more since everybody’s been down, and also, too, probably show that I really can help this team out a lot,” Williams said. “I’m more valuable than probably what people (think).

“People thought I was just a nose tackle but I can do a lot more than what, I guess, is already assumed or people’s assumptions of what they have of me.”

Williams played 36 snaps Sunday, his highest of the season by 10, and the most since that Week 17 loss to San Francisco. His body felt good a few days after the game, he said. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Williams has played more snaps in a game just seven times since he was drafted in 2010.

As Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has been figuring out how to line up the players he has left, Williams has played some end and been in on some nickel packages.

“I think a lot of times people just think I’m just a nose tackle, just eating up people, clogging a gap, or just get up the field every now and then,” Williams said.

“I hate the circumstances that I have gotten the opportunity, but at the same time I have just been trying to take full advantage of it.”

Williams’ stats don’t tell the whole story. He only has 12 tackles and one quarterback hurry, according to Pro Football Focus, but Williams was responsible for seven stops. But without Williams, Arizona likely doesn’t own the league’s best run defense.

“I just try to show the coaches and the people upstairs that I can play a lot more than just the regular 15-20 snaps I usually get,” Williams said.

“I think Sunday they asked me to do more and I helped the team out a lot. It’s just, in the end just the fact that I helped the team get a win. I’m definitely a team guy and I think I pretty much do what you tell me to do. You say, ‘Dan, I need you to go in there and play. We need you to step up and do a little bit more.’ I know for a fact I can definitely answer the bell and help the team succeed.”

All while proving he’s more than a nose tackle.