Big expectations for Big Cat Leonard Williams in 2016

Leonard Williams says he expects big things from himself in his second season, but won't target a specific number of sacks. "I wouldn't want to limit myself," he said. AP Photo/Gary Wiepert

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets fans have reason to be concerned about the Muhammad Wilkerson situation.

But they also have reason to be excited about the Leonard "Big Cat" Williams situation.

The second-year defensive lineman, Mel Kiper Jr.'s choice as NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season, is expecting bigger things from himself in 2016.

"I got to the quarterback a lot last year, but they were just hits, those aren't the stats I'm looking for," Williams said Wednesday, the second day of the Jets' mandatory three-day minicamp. "I want to get sacks. Those little seconds matter, getting to the quarterback.

"So I've been doing a lot of work during the offseason on my pass rushing and stuff like that, and I just feel more comfortable being a pro, playing in the NFL now with that year under my belt. So I'm just looking forward to my second year."

He's not the only one. Pepper Johnson, the Jets' defensive line coach, spoke highly of Williams on Wednesday.

"He's physically capable of being one of the better defensive linemen in the league," Johnson said.

Williams had only three sacks last season, which may seem paltry given he was the sixth overall pick in the draft. But he made a much bigger impact than that number would indicate.

Here are a couple more numbers for you, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information: Williams played the third-most snaps among defensive tackles in the league, behind only Ndamukong Suh (917) and Aaron Donald (862). Plus the Jets' defense performed significantly better when he was on the field, allowing 4.8 yards per play when he was out there versus 5.9 yards when he was not.

And he has learned from his rookie season. "One thing that I've been working on is just getting off the ball and working on the edge," Williams said. "I got away in college with just going down the middle of a guy a lot of times cause I out-physicaled them and I tried to do that last year and I realized you can't do that in this league."

Williams spent some time back at USC this offseason, working out with former college teammates and assistant defensive line coach Pete Jenkins.

Johnson likes what he's seen so far.

"He actually matured a lot," Johnson said. "I'm not saying he was a kid when he came in ... but he has taken it to another level. I'm not going to handcuff him and I'm sure [head coach] Todd [Bowles] and [defensive coordinator] Kacy [Rodgers] aren't going to handcuff him. Hopefully, the world is his."

The Jets would certainly miss Wilkerson if they don't have him on the field come September. The Pro Bowl defensive end hasn't signed his franchise-tag tender and might not report for the start of training camp, unhappy he doesn't have a long-term contract.

But Williams is a player to watch, a potential star in the making, who's aiming for more sacks this season, and that's not all.

"I never really set myself to a certain number, cause I can always exceed that number, so I wouldn't want to limit myself," Williams said. "I just want to pick up my numbers overall -- more [tackles for loss], more sacks, more tackles, everything."