Dan Williams III had the most difficult adjustment to make out of any player on the Redskins, learning as much of the playbook as he could in two days before training camp broke from Richmond on Tuesday. The former Jackson State wide receiver, however, is confident he can prove his way onto a 53-man roster.
Having played with the New York Jets in 2017, and participating in Washington’s joint practice with his former team in the final days of training camp, Williams’ knowledge of the defense gives him the confidence to showcase his talents in the second preseason game on Thursday night at FedExField.
“It’s going to be good because I used to be on the practice squad for the Jets last year,” Williams said. “I kind of know their schemes and how they play. So I’m going to be already knowing what they going to do before they even do it so I’m going to be prepared for it.”
With wide receiver Robert Davis being out for the year after suffering a knee and leg injury in practice, head coach Jay Gruden wanted another receiver that could assist the passing game. After becoming the all-time catches leader in his school's history with 184 receptions, 2,497 yards and 19 touchdowns, the 6-foot-3 receiver got opportunities with the Jets and Oakland Raiders during last year’s offseason.
The wide receiver competition has been heating up since training camp and the first preseason game, which makes the rest of the preseason critical for each player to show why they belong.
“They're all in competition, Cam [Sims], Simmie [Cobbs, Jr], [Darvin] Kidsy, all these guys have come in here and worked hard to try to make this football team, make a positive impression,” Gruden said. “That’s why these days are very important right here...We still got some time to look at these guys and a great opportunity for all of them."
Despite having to catch up to speed on the Redskins' offense, Williams has already brought the competitive spirit they're eyeing. After making a couple of solid catches in 1-on-1 drills, he showed his athleticism and how his frame can make him an effective receiver.
Even with having the challenge of coming into a new team right before they are set to conclude training camp, he's had no problems fitting in. Williams has built chemistry with his new teammates, which has allowed him to earn their respect.
“He’s coming in already with a lot of energy,” running back Kapri Bibbs said. “I like his vibe, he’s a nice, cool guy. I got a chance to talk to him the other day. He went to Jackson State and he seems pretty cool. Seems like a cool guy. I see him out here running some routes, he looks real crisp in and out his routes and looks like he’s got a good set of hands on him. I’m excited to see what he can do on Thursday.”
Check out these images of the fans at training camp practice Tuesday, August 14, 2018, at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
While Williams presents a lot of confidence to his game, he knows that he won’t be able to make his dream in the NFL a reality without the guidance of seasoned veterans. Learning under the likes of Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson Jr. has helped the 23-year-old understand his role with the Redskins and what they are trying to do on offense.
Knowing how quickly the final cuts are upon him, his mindset is to make each day better than the last.
“They’re the old G’s of the group, so I just listen to everything they say because I know that they’ve been in the league longer than me,” Williams said. “You just gotta walk before you talk in the league. I’m just taking it day by day at a time and I’m just learning from those guys.”
Being the newest member of the team doesn’t mean Redskins fans haven’t already embraced him. Making himself known during individual work, Williams has stayed after practice to sign autographs for every fan who asked for it.
Even if some fans didn’t know who he was at the time, he claims that if he can make it to the active roster that his name will be one they don’t forget.
“They’re loyal from what I’ve seen so far,” Williams said. “I made some great plays in 1-on-1's and they know me off of that. I know, if I get signed to the 53-man roster, I’m going to be a superstar in the making.”