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July 3, 2011 @ 9:18 am
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Williams Working To Avoid Sophomore Slump

Written by Charlie
Charlie Campbell


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Bucs WR Mike Williams is ready to avoid a sophomore slump and is working on improving for 2011. Williams has spent the offseason with QB Josh Freeman to learn other receiving positions.
From Day One of the rookie mini-camp last year, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams looked like a massive upgrade to the Bucs offense. After getting substandard play from starters Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton in 2009, the Buccaneers were looking for some young receivers to step up in 2010. The Bucs selected the Syracuse product in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and after one season that selection looks like perhaps the biggest steal of any draft pick from last year.

Williams burst onto the NFL scene when he caught 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie. The receiver, who just turned 24, earned a starting spot during OTAs (organized team activities) and training camp. He started all 16 games and was a finalist to be the NFL’s Rookie of the Year. Williams’ averaged 14.8 yards per catch, and was a consistent source for big plays for the Buccaneers.

Bucs fans have seen in the recent past a Buccaneers rookie receiver produce a dynamic season only to disappoint in year two. In 2004, Clayton looked like a future Pro Bowl receiver as a rookie, but never came close to duplicating that production in any other NFL season. Williams has been working on his overall game this offseason and is driven not to have a sophomore slump.

“I wanted to work on getting better in all aspects,” Williams said. “Everybody keeps talking about a sophomore slump and all that, but I’m out here trying to get better. No matter what people think, we’re going to go out here and try to prove people wrong with what we’ve been doing.”

A big part of Williams’ improvement is giving offensive coordinator Greg Olson more flexibility in where he lines up Williams and how he uses him. Last year, Williams started the season at the X (split end) receiver position. That receiver tends to run deeper routes downfield and is more of a big play threat, while the Z (flanker) receiver is more of the possession receiver that works in the short to intermediate part of the field. This offseason, Williams has focused on learning the routes for the Z receiver and slot receiver to offer more scheme variation and mismatch opportunities for Olson.

“I now know every position and I’m trying to get better at every position,” Williams said. “[Josh Freeman] has been putting me at each position and calling the play and snapping the ball and seeing if I know what to do. We’ve been doing good at that.”

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison rewrote the NFL record books. Manning said they would not have been able to have the success they had without working together in the months of April, May and June over the years. Williams is a Syracuse product like Harrison, and like the Colts great, Williams has spent the spring with his starting quarterback working on taking another step in 2011.

“Even though we are not at One Buc we got our offseason workouts in,” Williams said. “We were at South Florida and now we’re out here getting our workouts in. We’re trying to keep doing what we’re supposed to be doing if there wasn’t a lockout. We’re still trying to get some workouts in.”

Williams said that he and Freeman have built off 2010 and have the chemistry of an elite tandem.

“We feel like we’re right there now,” Williams said. “We just have to show everybody that we’re right there. Last year, I just learned the entire offense by the last game of last season. Now, I know the whole offense and I know what I have to do and where I’m going to be if I go to the slot or be the Z receiver. Right now, [Josh and I] are on the same page.”

Manning and Harrison were also bolstered by the contributions of teammates that are also excellent receivers. Tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Reggie Wayne were essential pieces to the Colts' dominant offense. Last year, the Bucs saw other receivers emerge as quality contributors. Fellow 2010 rookie Arrelious Benn finished the season strong before an injury robbed him of the final game and a half. Micheal Spurlock was a solid contributor, and rookie Dezmon Briscoe finished the season strong. Plus, tight end Kellen Winslow played 16 games for the second straight season and continued to prove that he is one of the top receiving tight ends in the NFL.

“Like we told people last year, we think we have a great corps,” Williams said. “We can go out there and we can battle with any corps out there in the world. We can sub in and out and we can get the same production from the first guy in that was in there. We can play with anybody and I think we showed that too this offseason by all being here.”
Last modified on Sunday, 03 July 2011 09:52

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  • avatar

    Im liking MikeWill more and more. Freeman and MikeWill connection! Lets Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • avatar

    Well it seems he's a smart guy, at least smart enough to know that he didn't get paid on his rookie deal and wants to get superstar money on the next one...so he's working to acheive his goal...I hope he makes it.
  • avatar

    He will continue to get better and better. I can't wait to see him and Freeman work together again in games and he also continues to show his blocking abilities for the RB's. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Mike Williams is definitely going to improve. Anybody that would go to the extent of having his routes carved into his head is one serious student of the game!
  • avatar

    macabee- Thats hilarious- lmao
  • avatar

    Can't help but appreciate the attitude Mike W has. That must big a mightly big chip for him. I imagine that his success last year with such limited knowledge gave him the confidence to keep growing and feeling he can "do it". This is going to be an exciting year to be a Bucs fan. Hope the "shirts and tie guys" get this lockout over with NOW! Go Bucs.
  • avatar

    K2 & Ronde both suggested on NFL Network, that the next step in Free's maturation is to go "No Huddle." If that's the case it seems like that would be easier to do with a familiar playbook. As a fan you have to hope that the lockout actually helps guys like M. Williams as he digests the entire offense from last season. The same offense the Bucs' will be running early in the season this year. Williams & Free spending time together developing rhythm, confidence & anticipating the others reads is inspiring. I hope part of M. Williams regiment is ball security. Honestly I always fear the #1 WO on any team becoming a spoiled infant when they achieve some success. It happens so often. Williams’s diligence & desire combined with Free's leadership makes it very encouraging that #19 won't fall into that trap. I would love to watch him catch 11 TD’s again this year against better coverage. With the power blocking scheme returning, a better 2 TE set, the big back back-field, and Free’s arm—it’s not impossible.
  • avatar

    well said mjmoody
  • avatar

    Way to go Williams. Learning the othe positions was a great move and will really help the team down the road. Between him, Benn, Briscoe and Stroughter (I haven't given up on him in the least) we have a lot to look forward to the passing game.
  • avatar

    Pinkstob- Stroughter will be off the team in about two yrs he gives you nothing, Spurlock is better.
  • avatar

    Very excited about seeing this young man in his 2nd yr. If Benn and Briscoe are as good as we think they are, And williams can repeat his efforst from last year, It should be an outstanding offense.
  • avatar

    I am hoping that the bucs sign dane sanzenbacher from Ohio state once the lockout is over. I know we have good depth at reciever but I really like the way he plays. I have heard only negatives about dez briscoe this off season. What are thoughts on Mr sanzenbacher??
  • avatar

    Good to see Mike Williams is working on building off the success of last year. He's got a good work ethic and he's hungry to improve. That kid is going to be special. So glad we have him on this team. Still hard to believe he went 4th round considering what he did in his rookie season. He had the second most touchdowns by any rookie WR since Randy Moss with 11 TD's. Moss has the rookie record with 17 TD's. While Williams may not duplicate the 11 TD's I think his reception total and receiving yards total will increase. Love where this team is going. Can't wait to read about Legarrette Blount and his off-season workouts.
  • avatar

    I cant WAIT for this lockout to end. I've been waiting to hear from this guy all off season but havent gotten much. I hope what he says is true, if so our offense is going to be scary good this year.
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