Tuesday during Buccaneers Total Access heard on 620 WDAE, Buccaneers running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams revealed that he received extensive playing time in Sunday's win against the Saints due to an injury sustained by running back Derrick Ward in the second quarter. Williams and Ward split carries through the first two quarters of the game, but the Auburn product finished the second half by himself. It was previously thought that Williams finished out the game because offensive coordinator Greg Olson opted to stick with the backfield player who had the hot hand.
"Honestly, it just happened to fall that way," Williams said. "[Derrick] Ward came to me in the second half and was like ‘[Cadillac], you know you're going to have to take the bulk of the carries. My knee's not feeling too well.' So once he came to that, I knew that pretty much I was the guy. I knew [Earnest Graham] could come in and spare me in moments like that, but he had to play fullback too so therefore when he came to me and told me that he couldn't go, I knew I had more opportunities."
Williams, 27, has been used as both a featured back and a rotational player in his tenure with the Bucs. In 2005, Williams won NFL Rookie of the Year honors after receiving the bulk of the carries and amassing 1,178 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. After tearing both of his patellar tendons the previous two years, Williams' role has been reduced in the offense. The fifth-year pro was able to make a miraculous comeback from those injuries, but the Bucs signed free agent Derrick Ward in the offseason to help ease his workload and provide insurance just in case he was not able to come back in time for the start of the regular season. Williams does not mind playing either role for the team.
"Both of [those roles] have their perks," said Williams. "When I was [running the ball] 20 plus times, that's something that I definitely enjoy. I get to get in the flow of the game and I get more opportunities. I feel like the more opportunities you give me, I'm definitely going to produce. With the rotation we're doing, I'm staying healthy, I'm fresh, and I'm good to go. I had 24 carries and I feel great. A lot of the time when I get 24 carries, I come in and get treatment here and there, but this season I haven't been getting the bulk of the carries. The rotation is pretty much something I've done my whole career down there in Auburn where I shared [with Ronnie Brown]."
Williams was able to capitalize on the opportunities he received against New Orleans, rushing for 129 yards on 24 attempts and scoring a 23-yard touchdown to help ignite Tampa Bay's 20-17 overtime victory. In the overtime period, Williams put the team on his back, rushing for 40 yards on nine attempts and picking up two first downs to help set up Connor Barth's 47-yard game winning field goal. Sunday's game was the first time Williams rushed for over 100 yards since November of 2006 and he was rewarded for his efforts by being nominated for Fed Ex Ground Player of the Week.