Orchard Park, NY -- When the Buffalo Bills took the field for their very first session of Organized Team Activities, not much was expected from defensive tackle and team leader Kyle Williams.
That was, until the defensive tackle showed some explosion during individual drills along with the defensive linemen. Although he didn't take part in team drills, Williams certainly took a step forward.
"I've really kind of I guess gone to another level I guess with my training the last couple three weeks or so," he said. "I go from running to light change of directions, and the last couple of weeks really been doing some hard change direction stuff. It felt good. We kind of talked about it this morning, did some individual, felt really good and hopefully we're on an uphill climb and we're just going to continue to get better and better, keep going up."
Williams, who missed the Bills' final 11 games last season, had surgery to repair the long-standing bone spurs in his foot as the 2011 NFL season was still going on. Now with some solid rehab time behind him, the former Pro Bowl player is just taking it step by step on when he can get back to the practice field in full.
OTAs extend through the middle of June, and also serve as a pre-cursor to the Bills' mandatory mini-camp in late June where players will put on pads for the first time since the end of the last regular season.
Could Williams be ready to return to a full practice even before the mini-camp starts?
"That's probably a long shot," the defensive tackle replied. "I'm not a good watcher and I might try to lobby for some of that stuff but you know, I don't know how that will work out. But we'll see, maybe so. My biggest thing that I want to do is I want to get as much football work in as possible to void any kind of rust, or slow start -- you know, anything like that. I think right now that's more my biggest fear than my foot hurting, because my foot feels pretty good right now."
Just as the onlooking media were caught off guard by how much Williams was doing on day one of OTAs, so was Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey.
"It surprised me," he said. "With Kyle you have to be careful not to push it too fast. He wants to be out there today… yesterday. You have to make sure you just don’t go too fast. He’ll get himself ready and get himself in shape. All the little fundamental things he can keep doing right now will help him in the long run, but we just don’t want to push it too fast."
The next step for Williams and the Bills is to see how much more he can do in the coming weeks. He said he's put a call out to his foot surgeon, Dr. Robert Anderson, on Tuesday morning to set up a date to talk about how much further he can push it. In January, Williams told reporters that training camp is the time he felt he would be 100-percent. That was only two months removed from his November surgery.
"As far as the way I feel now, I mean I feel good. I want to take part and I obviously want to be here. I will do whatever they allow me to do," he said. "I think discretion is the better part of valor is their stance right now. We have a lot of time before we have to play a football game, and they want to protect the Achilles which is understandable and I'm fine with that.
"But I also want to prepare myself to play football which they're allowing me to do by going through some individual stuff. Hitting the bag, going over the bags and you know hopefully we can just continue to move up with that and get better and get more acclimated to football."
Williams and the Bills will continue along with two more OTA sessions on Thursday and Friday of this week.