It was back in June of this year that Sports Illustrated columnist and self-declared hotel critic Peter King said that, before this offseason, Cowboys wideout Roy Williams was “never on a consistent weightlifting program in his life.” King’s source in the Cowboys organization went a step further, saying Williams “never lifted before,” period. Williams took the opportunity to immediately dispute those accusations, saying he’s been lifting for most of his career, only that he stopped lifting during the season to prevent wear and tear.
The truth of this matter probably lies somewhere between what King has said and Williams’ emphatic correction. Williams has probably picked up a weight or two in his life, but all you had to do was watch him half-heartedly try and reach for balls last season to know that rumors of the guy’s supposedly lax work ethic might have had some merit to them. Roy Williams may have lifted weights before. He might not be as lazy in his offseason work as King would have you believe. But he certainly PLAYED lazily last year. And the big question coming into this year was, “Is this guy going to play, you know, hard?”
Friday night against the Titans may have been our first indicator. The stats from Williams were relatively pedestrian -- five catches for 36 yards. But two key plays from the team’s first touchdown drive illustrated that Williams certainly LOOKS strong, and that he’s capable of deploying said strength for important, football-related purposes. There was a catch for ten yards and a first down, and a catch for two yards and first down. On both occasions, Williams had Cortland Finnegan and his terrifying negburns draped all over him. Both times, Williams fought to bring the ball past the marker to get the first.
Two catches, 12 yards. They weren’t much, but those are the kind of plays that number one wideouts need to make. There aren’t always going to be weeks where your top wideout gets 7 catches for 120 yards and two TD’s. The real test is in those weeks where your top guy gets 6 catches and has to fight like a rabid dog for any yards after the catch. That’s what usually separates normal wideouts from the Anquan Boldins of the world.
No one doubts that Roy Williams has that kind of ability. Physically speaking, he’s as talented as most any receiver out there. But his reputation for dogging it made him a glaring concern for most fans coming into 2009. On Friday night, Williams got three first downs on five catches. It wasn’t a spectacular display. And that’s exactly why it mattered.