Eight of those appearances have come from defensive end Julius Peppers, the second overall pick of the 2002 NFL Draft, who has 112.5 career sacks in 176 career games—19th all-time since it became an official stat in 1982.
Peppers is a poster child for the freakishly athletic defensive end, well equipped with speed not found in a man his size.
“He’s been doing it for a long time,” Williams said this week. “He’s very athletic, fast, strong [and] crafty. He’s a household name for a reason. He also has an array of moves that can get any offensive tackle off guard, so it’s going to be a tough matchup. ”
In his first three seasons in Chicago, Peppers has 30.5 sacks, adding a pass-rush dominance that has scored 17 defensive touchdowns during that span.
With hurried decision-making, quarterbacks have no choice but to release the ball at a point when receiver routes are still developing.
This season however, Peppers’ numbers are down (one sack), which seems to be having and impact on the overall defensive performance. While they have already scored three defensive touchdowns, the bend-but-don’t-break unit is giving up 373 yards per game.
Williams is used to being matched up against the opponent’s best pass rusher on the left side of the line. Already this season, he’s gone toe-to-toe with the likes of Clay Matthews and DeMarcus Ware and neutralized both threats.
He’s hoping to do the same against Peppers knowing that if he can hold him off long enough; it will allow Griffin III to focus more on his weapons in open-field.
Despite being selected for his first Pro Bowl last season and voted as one of the NFL’s top-100 players during the offseason by his peers, Williams knows that matchups set the tone for the game and the season.
“Obviously it’s a chance for me to prove myself to my team and ultimately prove myself that I can line up across from a guy that’s always on the All-Pro team, always in the Pro Bowl, and play effectively,” he said.
Williams has played against the Bears once before during his rookie season, but has since earned his stripes. Now he looks forward to matchups like this.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan admitted that despite his dip in numbers, Peppers can change a game if given the opportunity.
“I’m just hoping that after this game he still only has one sack,” Shanahan told the media at his press conference on Thursday. “[He’s a] very talented player.”
Until the final whistle, Williams will have Peppers in his sight, determined to keep one of the greatest of all time at bay.
“It’s Julius Peppers. It doesn’t get too much harder than that,” Williams said. “He’s definitely one of those guys that stays on your mind until after the game.”