Looming Large: Mario Williams

Jess Huffman continues his preview of the top players the Colts will face from each of their 13 unique opponents. In Weeks 3 and 16, Peyton Manning will be keeping a close watch on second-year defensive end Mario Williams ... and you will, too.

It's been more than a year since the 2006 NFL draft and Mario Williams remains an afterthought.

Larger names like Reggie Bush and Vince Young continue to stand in the limelight, while the 6-foot-7, 280-pound former No. 1-overall pick waits for his time to shine.

Facing a rookie NFL offensive tackle on Sept. 23, Williams would love nothing more than to make his presence felt against the visiting Colts.

The pressure on Williams was enough to break a man last season. Seemingly defying all logic, the Texans passed on both the Heisman and the hometown hero to draft Williams.

Not even Miles Davis could keep his cool underneath that heat.

However, lost in the madness and media hype is the fact Williams did not have a bad season last year -- he just didn't really make headlines.

Mario Williams in pursuit of Colts running back Joseph Addai.
Brian Bahr, Getty Images
At the very least, the North Carolina State standout was consistent, starting all 16 games despite being hampered by injuries. Williams did all he could to silence critics, leading the Houston defensive front with 47 tackles and adding 4.5 sacks. Not great numbers, but decent.

And as Dwight Freeney showed last year, you can't always measure a defensive lineman's success or contribution strictly by the numbers. Freeney recorded 29 tackles and five sacks last year, but few would say he wasn't a significant factor in the Colts' Super Bowl season.

Certainly, an established pass-rushing threat like Freeney garners much more attention from opposing offensive lines than an unproven rookie. That much is understood.  Simply put, some average statistics look good when considering the bigger picture.

What I don't understand is how people make Williams' numbers look atrocious. Maybe it's because he wasn't able to fulfill sky-high expectations.

Indianapolis rookie left tackle Tony Ugoh may experience some of the same pressure this season, and only time will tell how he will handle it.

At 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, Ugoh is no small man by any stretch of the imagination. However, attempting to stop the larger and faster Williams will be no easy task -- particularly for a player who will be starting just his third NFL game by then.

Williams made his biggest headlines this summer while appearing on You Tube, speeding away on a Lamborghini. He also was reportedly seen "making it rain" at a night club, showering money on innocent bystanders. But he also is supposedly down to 280 pounds, stronger, faster and almost 100 percent healthy.

Nothing disrupts the Indianapolis offense more than opposing defenses pressuring Manning. Nothing strikes fear in Colts fans like seeing No. 18 going down.

Call him a dark horse candidate, but I'm putting Williams on the "Looming Large" list.


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