After a rookie season and offseason that showed signs of pro potential, S Duke Williams has been turning heads and drawing some attention amid the star-studded Bills defensive backfield. But to keep the attention on himself, Williams must make the pivotal transition from being a rookie to an experienced pro. That means consistent play if he is to take his game to the next level.
"The true part of my game I'm really trying to work on is off the field and being a pro off the field," said Williams. "Getting to meetings on time, reading my playbook, taking care of my body and really being on top of my game as far as everything off the field and everything on the field is going to take care of itself. It's all about maturity. That's the biggest leap for your first year to your second year."
The leap Williams speaks of will be facilitated by a pair of talented safeties who have excelled during their tenure with the Bills, S Aaron Williams and Da'Norris Searcy, along with the rest of the Bills backfield which ranked among the top five units in the NFL last year.
"I've just got to come out here and do my best," said Williams. "The competition's there. We're all about it. Jonathan Meeks is out there working hard also. The best man wins and whatever my role on this team is, I'm going to do my best at fulfilling it."
What Williams does well is being able to combine fluid pass coverage while also being able to come up and plug the run as well as switch between playing free and strong safety. Those are valuable assets to have in the scheme new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is implementing.
"No matter where you are across the field, both safeties are interchangeable," said Williams. "We really share roles, playing strong and free safety, being able to cover guys on the slot, to playing in the post to coming down and making hits on the run. It's about even, what role I'm taking on. I feel like I'm fitting in really well. It's kind of similar to last year's defense. I'm able to go out here and play full speed and communicate and get guys lined up correctly. I'm fitting in well here."
After a Hall of Fame game that got the University of Nevada product trending on Twitter following a hit he landed on New York Giants rookie running back Andre Williams and a starting assignment during the team's second preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. Now Williams looks to hone his mental game further and fine tune his physical play in order to bridge the gap between rookie and pro. That he believes will convince the coaches he's a player who can handle the responsibilities that come with playing on a top five defensive unit.
"The mental part of the game, getting the guys lined up and really communicating with the linebackers and the corners," said Williams of responsibilities he wants to master. "The physical part is going to be there so it's just the mental part. Mental errors. Things like that and getting that cleaned up … Just take one thing and try to fix it and if you find any other kinks in your game, fix that as well."