Once the NFL opened back up for business, a priority for the Buffalo Bills was to extend their best player for the long-term. That's precisely what they accomplished by inking defensive lineman Kyle Williams to a six-year contract extension.
With that out of the way, it's on to business on the field for Williams and the rest of his defensive crew. The business at hand is to try and fix the pourous run defense that belittled the Bills defensive efforts throughout 2010, ranking dead last in it within the league last season.
Realistically speaking, how much better can that run defense be? Williams, like his head coach Chan Gailey, is talking and thinking big.
"I don't want to be a little bit better. I want to be tons better. I'm talkin' about 30 spots better," said a fired up Williams. "That's what I expect. That's what I want."
The Bills' top player feels the difference between 2010 and 2011 within this team against the run.
"I think as you watch the film, it looks different in practice," Williams remarked. "Our fits look different. The control of the line of scrimmage looks different, and it's looked a lot like that in the preseason games. So no reason to believe it won't be tons better."
Part of the reason that could make it tons better is the addition of rookie defensive lineman and third overall pick Marcell Dareus. Williams has took it upon himself to step up and be the hornet buzzing in the rookies' ear with information on things to look for.
Whether it be pre-snap information or to try and diagnose formations and plays, the veteran has really taken a professional liking to what Dareus brings to the table. But the question remains, how ready can the rookie be for his first regular season game Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs? Williams didn't hesitate in his answer.
"I think he's ready," he declared. "I think that's something that's missed on rookies when they're coming in. They're just kind of zeroed in on the guy in front of him and what their job is, and that's what I've kind of tried to get in his ear about. He sits next to me in meetings and I'm constantly talking to him, 'Look at this, look at that.' I'm just trying to help him see things a little quicker so he can play faster."
The help hasn't gone unnoticed by both Dareus and head coach Chan Gailey.
"I have a good feel of [the defense] because the veterans, especially Kyle Williams, are really keeping me on it," said the highly-touted rookie. "I have really just been taking it all in like a sponge and doing the best I can with it."
"That's helpful for Marcell. He probably doesn't even realize how helpful that is at this point to have a guy like Kyle in the room to help him," Gailey said. "I think in four, five years he'll look back on it and realize how good it was to have those guys in the room early."
Despite a spectacular preseason campaign for Dareus, his mentor on the team has been harping on one important facet leading up to Sunday.
"I think we've been pretty clear with the rookies -- me especially with Marcell -- things are going to be a little bit different," said Williams. "Preseason is preseason. When the bullets start flying, it's a little different."
But the freshly extended Williams is ready for the new season to start, and more importantly to get this Bills' defense where he expects it to be -- near the top.
"There's nothing like a regular season game. There's nothing like opening day. I think I told the guys last week when we got here, it's just a different feel when you get here."
Williams, Dareus and the rest of the Bills open up in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.