Beat Writer & Videographer
While he may not be receiving as many touches as he used to, running back Cadillac Williams is happy with his role on the team, and is excited that the Bucs are back to their winning ways.
No one likes to see someone else step into his or her shoes and take their job. Especially not when that someone is a running back in the NFL who is used to touching the football 20 times per game. But that is exactly what has happened to Cadillac Williams, who has seen his touches and production drop due to the rise of rookie tailback LeGarrette Blount.
"I am a competitor and I would love to be out there to get more carries and put forth what I can do out there," Williams said. "It is what it is. We're 6-3 and it's just a pleasure seeing the young guys playing good. It's cool. Whenever my number is called I'm going to continue to do all I can do."
After producing just a 2.4 per carry average and no rushing touchdowns through the first half of the season, Williams finally got into the end zone in the Bucs 31-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Williams carried the ball five times for 62 yards (12.4 avg.), including a 45-yard scamper to ice the game for Tampa Bay. He now has 287 rushing yards on 97 carries (3.0 avg.).
"It felt great to be in the open field – just to have that green grass," Williams said. "I feel like I have a lot to offer. I feel I can still do more, but it's team-first with me. I'm going to continue to support these guys and get people ready to play and be a leader on this team. Whenever my number is called I will just try to do my best."
After receiving a bulk of the carries in the first five games of the season, Williams has seen Blount carry the load on the ground in recent weeks. In the last four games Williams has only received 21 carries after having 76 in the five contests before. In that span Williams has basically been the third back for Tampa Bay. But Williams is not bitter about it. He has enjoyed mentoring Blount and his just happy to be a part of an up-and-coming team that is putting up W’s in the win column.
“I know Cadillac is not one of our team captains because it didn’t get voted that way, but he is certainly one of our team characters,” said head coach Raheem Morris. “There is no doubt about it. That’s why when Cadillac doesn’t have a great game running the ball and everyone wants to be down on him, it is easy to be a coach from outside the building when you don’t know what is going on inside the building. If you don’t know how much Cadillac has helped LeGarrette Blount up to this point then you are sadly mistaken, and making a big mistake on judging that young man’s character…. Cadillac is the ultimate character guy on our football team. He means a lot to us, he means a lot to our offense, and he certainly means a lot to Free. Just ask him.”
Williams’ willingness to step aside and help the younger Blount into what has been his job since 2005 speaks volumes to his character. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson says that it is rare for a player to do that in this sport.
“I think it is unique, it is unique for that position really, but he is a unique person,” said Olson. “As Ra said, he is a very high character guy. He was not voted a team captain, but if you were to ask the guys on the team they would say he is one of the most popular players and one of the players that all of our players look up to and admire… he’s been great throughout that whole bit and the entire season. All he wants to do is win and he will do whatever it takes to win so we are lucky to have him.”
Meanwhile, Blount has rushed for 358 yards on 75 carries (4.8 avg.) with four touchdowns. But if you ask him, Blount says that Williams is still the main tailback on the Buccaneers.
“I definitely have not replaced him because has you seen he can still run the ball and play just like when he was a rookie,” said Blount. “Cadillac is the premiere back on this team and he is going to continue to be the premiere back on this team. They trust him. The fans love him. I love him and I am going to continue to ride off of everything that he is teaching me.”
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