Tampa Bay running back Cadillac Williams isn't participating in the Bucs' mandatory mini-camp, but he does expect to be ready to go when the team holds its first training camp practice on Aug. 1. Williams' past two seasons have ended prematurely due to torn patellar tendon injuries in both knees.
Earnest Graham and Derrick Ward are carrying the load in Tampa Bay's offensive backfield at this week's mandatory mini-camp, but the Bucs' stable of running backs could become a little more crowded when training camp rolls around in August.
Bucs running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams hasn't been able to participate in any of Tampa Bay's organized team activities this offseason due injury.
Williams, who was a 2005 first-round draft pick and earned NFL Rookie of the Year honors, has suffered torn patellar tendon injuries in both his knees in consecutive seasons.
Both injuries required surgery and extensive rehab. Those ailments have also limited Williams to just 10 games over the past two seasons.
Williams, 27, has rushed 632 times for 2,417 yards (3.8 avg.) and 14 touchdowns during his four-year career.
Last year, Williams missed all of training camp and began the 2008 regular season on the physically unable to perform list, which is where he remained until November when he was activated to the 53-man roster.
Williams appeared to be on his way back from the devastating knee injury, carrying the ball 63 times for 233 yards (3.7 avg.) and four touchdowns before he sustained a season-ending knee injury in the regular season finale vs. Oakland.
While some thought Williams' career might be in jeopardy, his work ethic has him on pace to return from yet another serious knee injury, but even earlier than he did from the first knee ailment.
"That's the primary goal," Williams said when asked if he was scheduled to return to action for the start of training camp. "Just from doing rehab and a lot of little things here and there during the process it's looking really promising.
"I've been a fighter all my life. I think I get it from my mother - I've been watching her all my life. She's very dedicated and gives it everything she has. I think that's where I get it from. I'm not going to quit until I just can't do this anymore."
Just as he did last year, Williams has opened some eyes and earned respect from both coaches and players because of his tremendous work ethic and drive to return to the football field.
"He's been one of the hardest working individuals I've ever been around, period," said Bucs running backs coach Steve Logan. "What he's put himself through on the rehab is, well, I don't know what the word is, but he's done everything and more."
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