A homecoming brews for Williams
By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
It was Seattle that gave Grant Williams his first cup of coffee in the NFL - and his first cup of Starbucks.
"That's fairly addictive," Williams said, speaking of the coffee brand, not the Seahawks. "That is where I got hooked on it. It tastes a little better there."
This season, Williams is getting a taste of what it's like to be a full-time starter for the first time in his nine NFL seasons. The closest he had come previously was the 1999 season in Seattle, when he took over in Week 2 and started 15 times for coach Mike Holmgren's first Seahawks squad.
Because of Kyle Turley's season-ending back injury, Williams has been the starter at right tackle from Game 1 for St. Louis. This far along in his career, it's obviously a pleasant development. In his two previous seasons with the Rams, Williams had only three starts - all in 2002 at left tackle when Orlando Pace was sidelined with a calf injury.
"It has been fun to be out there," Williams said. "It's nice to be more sore on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It has been rewarding, but at the same time, I'm a team guy and if you can't win the games, it's all for naught anyway. We're 2-0 in the division and going into a big game. This is a week that means a lot."
Williams spent his first four seasons with Seattle, after signing with the club as an undrafted rookie out of Louisiana Tech in 1996. The Seahawks liked his size (6-7, 300 pounds), and thought he had some potential. But when he became eligible for free agency following the '99 season, retaining him wasn't a high priority for the Seahawks.
"It was a great group of guys," Williams said. "Good character. It seemed like we were always around .500. And then the first year when Holmgren got there, we won the division and made the playoffs. Which was a huge deal for Seattle - it was the first time they'd done that in forever. So it was a good time."
Williams signed a two-year, $1.9 million contract with New England following the 1999 season. He spent two seasons with the Patriots, earning a Super Bowl ring for their victory over the Rams, then was traded to St. Louis in August 2002.
Williams missed the Rams' 2002 game in Seattle because of an ankle and leg injury. He played only on special teams there last season in a 24-23 Rams loss. So Sunday's game marks Williams' first game in Seattle as a starter since that '99 season.
"It was a good four years there," Williams said. "A couple of 'O-linemen' are still there. A couple guys on defense are still there. I still know a lot of the upstairs guys. So it does mean a lot."
It will mean a lot more for the Rams if Williams can keep Seattle defensive end Chike Okeafor away from Marc Bulger and the Rams' running backs on Sunday.
"He's a real active up-the-field speed guy," Williams said. "And he does have some power."
In that sense, Okeafor's similar to the Seahawks' other defensive end, former Ram Grant Wistrom.
"They just don't stop," Williams said. "You know you're going to be tired at the end of the day. ... And hopefully, it goes well."
Things didn't always go well two weeks ago against New Orleans, when Williams gave up two sacks to Charles Grant. One was more the result of a breakdown on a pass route that caused Bulger to hesitate. But on the other, Williams got beat by Grant.
"He definitely got me on a move," Williams said. "Inside fake and slapped my outside hand. From a physical standpoint, it was not my worst game. But as a lineman - a sack - one is bad."
Until now, Williams hadn't played right tackle since his 2000 season in New England. He seems more comfortable at left tackle. But according to coach Mike Martz, Williams has made the adjustment to the right side.
"He's playing very well," Martz said. "He's one of the reasons why I say we're playing better and better on the offensive line."
Re: A homecoming brews for Williams
Okefor isn't Grant, but he does still possess some skills. The interesting matchup will be Pace vs Wistrom. My money is on Pace but we shall see.
Re: A homecoming brews for Williams
RT again has again surfaced as a weak link in the play of the O. Williams has been bull-dozed and bullwinkled thus far. It has put more pressure on MB to either not drop back so far in the pocket or step up into it more quickly to allow Grant to use the DE's momentum against him and push him past the pocket. There is rarely any time in the NFL to learn on the job and be successful at the same time. Just one bad play at the wrong time can be the difference - just ask Pace.