IRVINE, Calif. – While running back Kyren Williams saw action in 10 games as a rookie in 2022, his statistics reflected a small role.
But if Rams Training Camp presented by UNIFY Financial Credit Union is any indication, that's likely to change in 2023 based on how those practices have gone.
"It's been good," Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said last week of Williams' training camp performance. "I think both catching the ball out of the backfield, we've made some big plays. I know you guys have seen those and then when we've handed it to him, he is getting the ball to the right spot. And this offense is predicated on giving (running) backs reads that if we can get it to the right spot, we should be able to get positive yards and he is done a nice job of doing that."
Being healthy has made a big difference.
A broken foot during OTAs last spring sidelined him for multiple practices in his first NFL training camp. A little over a month after returning from that broken foot, he sustained an ankle injury on the opening kickoff of Los Angeles' Week 1 game against the Buffalo Bills, which put him on injured reserve for two months.
Once healthy in the regular season, Williams had 35 carries for 139 yards and nine catches for 76 yards in those 10 games played. The bulk of that production came in Weeks 10-12: He had 19 carries for 80 yards and seven receptions for 63 yards during that three-game stretch.
As Stafford pointed out, Williams has been making plays in both facets throughout training camp. He connected on deep passes down the sideline from Matthew Stafford a couple of times, and also been a reliable option on shorter passes too.
That can be attributed in part to natural progression from Year 1 to Year 2 – or the game "slowing down," as many players will say. It's made a noticeable difference for Williams and helped put him position to make the most of his skillset.
"I'm taking it more as an opportunity to showcase my skills and my talents and what I bring to this game," Williams told theRams.com after practice last week. "Last year I was unable to do that, and so it was kind of a learning experience for me. And then being able to come this year fully healthy, fully ready to go, getting through OTAs and then going through training camp now, it's just elevated my game. It's allowing the game to slow down in front of me, allowing me to know where my blocks are going, where the linemen are going to with their blocks and who to reach and make the right decision. So in a way, the game is really slow starting to slow down for me and I'm starting to see everything I need to see."
When it comes to making plays as a pass-catcher, it's nothing new for Williams. He had 78 receptions for 675 yards and four touchdowns during his three seasons at Notre Dame. He also played slot receiver in high school.
Regardless of the scope of his role this season, Williams is just eager to contribute.
"Just contributing as much as I can," Williams said of his mindset. "Whether that's first down, second down, third down, it doesn't matter. You're bringing energy to the squad, it doesn't matter. I'm gonna do as I'm told to do, and do it to my fullest. So being able to have the mindset (that) whenever I do have that chance to get on the field, it's to make a play, it's to make something change in the game. So just being able to believe in that and being ready when my number's called fully, and being able to be locked in."