Lining up against perhaps the best wide receiver duo in the NFL in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, Williams forced three turnovers on three straight possessions filling in at cornerback for starter Jason Verrett.
“I got a lot of confidence from that game,” Williams said. “Just because it was a Super Bowl-winning team and a contender at that time, so to play like that on that type of stage in Denver was just amazing. It was good just to scrap it out with those guys and see what I could do, and I felt like I weighed in pretty good.”
The performance was a glimpse at what the talented, fourth-year pro out of Cal can do on the field when he plays to his potential. Now, Williams has to show that he can play with that type of effort each week, starting in training camp.
But first Williams has to make the final roster, which will be a tough task in a deep cornerback group for the Chargers that includes Verrett, veterans Brandon Flowers and Casey Hayward, along with emerging talent such as Craig Mager, Richard Crawford and Greg Ducre.
“I’m just worried about me mechanically making the right decisions and staying healthy,” Williams said. “For the most part, it’s about just competing when I get a chance. I know I can play. I’ve proved it. I’m not pretty much worried about my play. I know it speaks for itself, and I just have to be available.”
Staying healthy has been an issue for Williams. Selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft, Williams missed his entire rookie season after suffering a pectoral injury during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears.
The last two years, Williams missed five games with nagging injuries, so he’s focused on staying on the field for the upcoming season.
“Steve is very capable of playing at a high level in the National Football League,” Chargers secondary coach Ron Milus told the team’s website. “We’ve seen that. We just have to develop some consistency with him. I think he’s got all the tools because he can run with anybody. He might be the fastest player on our team. He has good change of direction, so he needs to keep pushing himself.”
At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Williams is an elite athlete who plays bigger than his size. As Milus noted, Williams also one of the fastest players on San Diego’s roster. Williams ran a 4.42-second time in the 40-yard dash and posted a 40.5-inch vertical jump at the NFL scouting combine in 2013.
Williams finished second on the team last year with two interceptions. He also recorded five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Those are important numbers for defensive coordinator John Pagano, who wants his defense to force more turnovers in 2016.