Whirlwind Week for Williams

Posted Oct 25, 2012

LONDON – To say that Chris Williams’ week has been a whirlwind would be a massive understatement.

After Chicago released the former first round offensive lineman on Oct. 16, he decided to take his time, take some visits and make a choice over the weekend from a group that included the Rams, Philadelphia and Arizona.

Williams chose the Rams, arrived in St. Louis on Sunday night around 11 and was on the team plane to London to play the Patriots less than 24 hours later.

“They asked if I had a passport,” Williams said, laughing. “I’m not sure if that was a requirement (to me signing) or not.”

Regardless, Williams has had perhaps the most difficult adjustment in a week full of them for a Rams team that has spent the early part of the week trying to get acclimated to London.

In addition to the time changes and long flight that his teammates have dealt with, Williams is also trying to get to know his new team as well as a new offense. While it’s been a taxing process both physically and mentally, the chance to start over is something Williams values.

“I think so,” Williams said. “It’s always good to get another set of eyes on you and just get a chance to go in and work so I’m excited to work.”

Williams was the 14th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Bears and was supposed to be a long-term solution at tackle. But a series of injuries persisted throughout Williams’ time in the Windy City and even when healthy, he struggled to gain consistent traction.

When his time in Chicago finally ended, he had started games at both tackle positions and left guard and had found himself on the bench, much to his chagrin. When the Bears released him last week, he was even more surprised.

“I was actually,” Williams said. “That was a shock but I guess the writing was on the wall in certain ways. You have just got to kind of deal with it as it comes to you.”

Given the chance to determine his next move, Williams went searching for a place he felt would be the best fit for his future. The former Vanderbilt Commodore was familiar with Rams coach Jeff Fisher from Fisher’s time in Nashville and found himself impressed with what the Rams were building when the Rams played in Chicago back in week 3.

Williams added the Rams to the list of places to visit and immediately found a comfort level in St. Louis. It didn’t hurt that he owns a home in Nashville and his wife’s family lives in relatively nearby Memphis.

“I liked what I saw from the other sideline,” Williams said. “I’m familiar with Coach Fisher and a couple of other guys on the staff and a few other guys. When I visited I liked (Offensive Line) Coach (Paul) Boudreau and it seemed like a good opportunity.”

For the Rams, adding a lineman with first-round talent who had never quite met those expectations for whatever reason represented an intriguing possibility.

“Chris was released last week and we talked to him,” Fisher said. “He made a visit in here and we’re really excited about the opportunity as he is. He’s flexible from the standpoint that he’s played all the positions. He can help us. He’s got a lot to learn but we think he has a future here with us.”

Happy and fully healthy for the first time in a while, Williams is still sorting through how he fits into the mix. His versatility makes him a logical candidate to work in a swingman role capable of playing either tackle position or filling in at guard.

Not that Williams much cares where his chance comes.

“At this point in the season, I am just trying to do what I can to help the team,” Williams said. “I am trying to pick up the offense as fast as I can and go from there. We have all got something to prove as a player in that aspect but I am just trying to help the team however I can.”

In terms of learning the offense, there will be a bit of a curve but most of it is terminology related. In the meantime, Williams is just happy to not have to worry about spending time in the training room and focusing his efforts on the practice field and meeting room, no matter where those rooms are located.

“Injuries are kind of a part of football,” Williams said. “It’s frustrating but stuff happens and you just move on. Just be cool with it. You can’t let it frustrate you. I feel great now. I have just been dying to get back on the field so I am excited.”

MORE ON AMENDOLA: Rams receiver Danny Amendola spoke to reporters Thursday for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury against Arizona earlier this month. He insisted that he’s working to get back to playing this week after he was again a limited participant in practice.

“I’m getting there,” Amendola said, while also acknowledging it’s more likely he’ll return after the bye against San Francisco. “I’m almost there.”

Fisher pumped the brakes a bit on Amendola’s excitement but did acknowledge the progress the valuable receiver has made this week.

“He practiced better today,” Fisher said. “He was limited but he practiced better today. We have to wait and see how the week goes on.”

Fisher also made mention of the fact that it can be hard to get Amendola to slow down when he’s so enthusiastic to return to game action.

“Danny, right after the injury wanted to go back on the field,” Fisher said. “He’s a competitor and he loves to play and we can’t wait to get him back.”

SHORT SHRIFT: With temperatures dipping below 50 and wind whipping all over the Arsenal Football Club facility Thursday afternoon, most spectators, players and coaches were bundled up to deal with the cold. One notable exception would be Fisher, who came to practice in a Rams parka with khaki shorts.

Yes, shorts.

“I’ve got this deal where I have worn shorts all the way to December 1,” Fisher said. “It’s going to be a challenge, I think, when we get back to St. Louis but I’m going to give it a shot.”

Fisher said he has always worn shorts until December and plans not to break the long pants out until then again, no matter the weather.

NO WEATHER WORRIES: Speaking of weather, Fisher was asked Wednesday how he would handle soggy and rainy conditions should they arrive on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

Unimpressed, the always-informed Fisher issues his response and made it clear he didn’t expect rain to be a factor.

“Well, we’ve got rain in the U.S. also,” Fisher said. “The concern would be the footing, especially from the defensive standpoint because it’s defenses reacting where offenses know where they’re going and we are playing such a dynamic offense that that would be a concern. But we have an offense as well so. My understanding is there is 0 percent (chance of rain) on Sunday.”

STEVEN JACKSON FIELD: Running back Steven Jackson was helping some family members deal with some travel problems Wednesday night when his publicist fired off a picture text of the football field at Jackson’s high school in Las Vegas.

The football field at El Dorado High in Vegas has a new name, bearing the name of one of its most famous alumni and the Rams’ all time leading rusher. Upon getting the news, Jackson found himself overcome with emotion.

“It’s pretty overwhelming,” Jackson said. “This bye week coming up I am going to go and visit the field. That’s kind of where it all started. I kind of teared up last night when I heard about the news that they decided to name the field after me. It’s amazing.”

INJURY REPORT: The Rams had a couple of changes to the injury report Thursday. First, the report had an error when issued Wednesday as wideout Chris Givens did not miss practice with an illness.

The report meant to name fellow receiver Brandon Gibson as a non-participant because of illness. He returned to practice Thursday with no issues.

“He had a bug or something and we took care of him,” Fisher said. “He had no problems today.”  

Elsewhere, tight end Mike McNeill (knee) was added as a limited participant and linebacker Mario Haggan (thigh) was upgraded to limited participation. That duo joined Amendola and defensive tackle Matt Conrath (knee) with that designation.

Tackle Rodger Saffold (knee), end Eugene Sims (knee) and tackle Wayne Hunter (back) again did not practice.