After the first padded practice of training camp on Tuesday, Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams spoke with the media, addressing a very important change in the team’s coaching staff — one that sort of flew under the offseason radar: former NFL wide receiver Greg Lewis moving from being the team’s wide receivers coach to being the running backs coach.
“The biggest thing is learning stuff from a wide receiver’s perspective,” said the fourth-year player about his new position coach. “When we line up wide, learning different routes, how to run those things. I think it’s helping all our game as a running back unit.”
When asked if he worked on routes during the offseason, Williams was confident.
“Yes,” he replied. “Always.”
Williams enters his fourth NFL season as the clear favorite to be the team’s second running back. After signing veterans LeSean McCoy and Le’Veon Bell duriing the past two seasons — with very disappointing results — the team appears confident about rotating Williams with starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The presence of those veterans, however, never frustrated Williams.
“I don’t look at it as frustration,” he said. “I’m a competitor. So I just look at it as they’re just bringing in more competition. I went to LSU. Every year, we bring in five stars, four stars. So it was normal to me. I just come in. I compete. Do what I have to do — and just keep moving.”
Even as the only true candidate to become the second running back, Williams said he is maintaining his “competitor” mindset.
“Yeah it is my job for the taking<“ he acknowledged. “Like I said, I just have to keep doing like I’m doing, keep being consistent, just keep moving forward.”
The only player clearly ahead of Williams on the depth chart is his former LSU teammate Edwards-Helaire. As they enter their second season as NFL teammates, their relationship remains strong.
“I think our relationship has pretty much been the same,” said Williams. “We’re kind of closer since I’m in the league and he’s in the league now. We’re always together. We eat together. We do pretty much everything together. You see us walking in — we’re walking in together. That’s my brother — and that’s going to be forever my brother.”
For many observers, the biggest question about this year’s team has been the revamped offensive line. Having now lined up behind them in practice through one week of camp, Williams offered his unique perspective.
“Those guys — they’re doing a good job up front. They’re still getting everything. They’re still learning — but they’re picking up everything fast and as an offense we’re moving real good right now.”
Williams recognizes that since padded practices have just started, he still faces a challenge in learning how to run behind the new line.
“I think the field’s just going to be a little more different,” he said. “We just got to keep building — that’s why we’ve got training camp. We just to keep on building and move from there.”
As a former undrafted free agent who was never a starter in college, Williams has beaten the odds by getting to this point in his career. While he had a particularly rough game in Super Bowl LV, he did turn in strong performances while Edwards-Helaire recovered from injury during the first two rounds of the playoffs against the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills.
With unrestricted free agency looming after this season, expect to see a motivated Williams further outworking the competition for his role on the Chiefs offense.