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Ryan and Adoree Jackson
28-08-2018 10:12 AM
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Ryan and Adoree Jackson

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— Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams wasn’t himself as a rookie.

Back and knee injuries limited him to 11 receptions in 10 games last season Seahawks D.J. Fluker Jersey , and a hamstring injury during OTAs this year had Williams wondering when his body would allow him to show why the Chargers selected him No. 7 overall in the 2017 draft.

Finally healthy, Williams has performed in training camp like the dominant receiver he was at Clemson.

“Not being able to do the things I’m used to doing, that was the main thing. Not being able to move how I want to move. Now I’m able to come out here and, you know, play how Mike Williams plays, so I’m feeling comfortable right now,” Williams said.

Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt had no doubts about Williams’ ability to contribute at a high level after making 98 receptions for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Tigers’ 2016 national championship team. It was just a matter of staying on the field.

Whisenhunt pointed to the improvement Williams showed during the regular season, when he had seven catches for 62 yards in the two games against Jacksonville and Buffalo prior to sustaining the knee injury against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.

“I think the thing with Mike that’s pretty consistent is when he gets an amount of time where he’s in a routine, he starts to get better Authentic Omar Vizquel Jersey ,” Whisenhunt said.

A consistent schedule was lacking for Williams in 2017. He sustained a herniated disc in his lower back on the first day of rookie minicamp in May, an injury that kept him out of training camp last year. The progress Williams made this offseason was interrupted by a minor hamstring strain, but he recovered in time to run and lift weights every day and do yoga at least twice a week going into his first training camp.

The difference in Williams’ health has been evident. Always known as a receiver that uses his size effectively, he has been making contested catches consistently against the Chargers’ strong crop of defensive backs.

“He goes up and attacks the ball,” safety Jahleel Addae said. “That’s the biggest thing you see with him is he can use his body to shield off defenders. He can go up and grab it, and that’s something we need, for sure.”

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Williams’ physical traits could be especially valuable with tight end Hunter Henry out for the season because of a torn ACL. All but one of Henry’s 12 career touchdowns receptions have been in the red zone, with eight coming inside the 10-yard line. Getting Williams matched up on jump balls at the goal line could offset those losses.

But Whisenhunt wants Williams to be more than a red-zone specialist. Whisenhunt and wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan have been training Williams to line up all over the field, using Keenan Allen as the model for versatility.

“He set the standard of being able to line up in different spots and be successful Larry Bowa Jersey , and that’s what we’re trying to do a little bit with Mike to create those matchups where we can use his size and hopefully those things can work out,” Whisenhunt said.

Route running is one area where Williams is already emulating Allen, citing him as an influence for his development there.

“He sets defenders up so good, it’s just good for me to come out here and learn from someone like him,” Williams said. “I take a lot from his game.”

All aspects of Williams’ improvement were evident when the Chargers scrimmaged Saturday as he made two touchdown receptions.

“The confidence comes with making plays,” Williams said.

NOTES: Defensive end Joey Bosa left practice early Tuesday because of a left foot injury.

鈥?The Tennessee Titans are doing their best to recreate the Patriot Way in Music City.General manager Jon Robinson, hired in January 2016, got his NFL start as a New England scout. Robinson signed cornerback Logan Ryan as a free agent last year. He then hired Mike Vrabel, who won three Super Bowls as a Patriots linebacker, as Tennessee’s new coach in January after the Titans’ season ended in Foxborough in the divisional round of the playoffs.Now the Titans are kicking off free agency by agreeing to deals with a pair of Patriots in cornerback Malcolm Butler and running back Dion Lewis.Agent Derek Simpson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Butler will sign a five-year deal worth more than $60 million Lonnie Chisenhall Jersey , which includes more than $30 million guaranteed, once free agency begins. A person familiar with the deal told the AP that Lewis has agreed on a four-year contract worth a maximum value of $23.4 million .The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because signings can’t become official until the start of the new league year on Wednesday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the deal.The Titans declined to comment because free agency does not begin until Wednesday afternoon. Tennessee had approximately $59 million in salary cap space to spend after releasing running back DeMarco Murray and three other players last week.The 28-year-old Butler is a Vicksburg, Mississippi, native who went undrafted out of West Alabama but spent the past four seasons with the Patriots. Butler started 48 of his 59 games and has eight career interceptions. He was the hero of New England’s Super Bowl win after the 2014 season, intercepting a pass to seal the 28-24 victory over Seattle.The New Orleans Saints pursued Butler as a restricted free agent last year, but the trade price was too high.The cornerback was well-respected in the Patriots’ locker room and played last season under a $3.9 million tender offer. After a slow start, he ended up playing 98 percent of New England’s defensive snaps and finished the season with two interceptions.Butler started the Patriots’ first two playoff games before he was mysteriously benched for the Super Bowl. He played only one snap 鈥?on special teams 鈥?in New England’s 41-33 loss to Philadelphia. Butler later denied any off-field misconduct, saying he never missed a curfew or did anything to hurt the Patriots’ chances.His two interceptions were the same number as fellow cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was signed by the Patriots to a five-year, $65 million deal last spring.The Titans will add Butler to a secondary already featuring Ryan and Adoree Jackson Adam Ottavino Colorado Rockies Jersey , who started 16 games after being drafted 18th overall. Ryan wrote on earlier Tuesday that he was working the phones recruiting free agents to Tennessee.The Titans ranked 13th in total defense and improved slightly against the pass, giving up 239.3 yards through the air to move from 30th in 2016 to 25th overall.After releasing Murray, the Titans needed more help for quarterback Marcus Mariota and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.Lewis joins a backfield already featuring Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama, who had bided his time behind Murray his first two seasons. Lewis is a big receiving threat with 109 catches in his three seasons with New England, even with his first season in 2015 cut short by knee surgery after seven games.He played just seven games during his return in 2016, but he had a career season in 2017, leading New England with 896 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. He also had three receiving scores and was the Patriots’ best kickoff returner, posting a 103-yard return for a touchdown against Denver.AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans and AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Boston contributed to this report..
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