He learned that an ankle sprain is not something that always can be re-wrapped and then played on immediately — not after a high ankle sprain limited his contributions as a rookie to just five games, with all of his playing time coming on special teams.
He also has changed his lifestyle and what he put into his body.
"I had to change my diet — I didn't want to, but I had to," he said. "I used to have that metabolism where I could burn up anything I put into my body.
"But I wanted to trim some body fat. In college, I had a terrible diet — I ate everything. But I gave up fast food and I gave up alcohol a couple of months ago. Now I'm trying to get my body fat down under 10 percent again."
For the record, Williams still is listed at the same weight — 246 pounds — that appeared by his name last year. But he looks different.
"I finally started to understand," Williams said, "that if you put garbage in, you get garbage out."
Williams said his revamped diet has showed immediate benefits to him as the Cowboys' preseason gets underway.
"I can definitely feel a difference," he said. "I feel lighter, I feel quicker, I feel faster.
"I spent the offseason working out hard. After I changed the way I eat, in the weight room, I can lift harder and lift longer."
With starter Keith Brooking shelved while recuperating from offseason knee surgery, Williams spent Monday's OTA session running with the first-team defense at Brooking's inside linebacker spot. He said he feels comfortable with the defense.
"A year ago, in mini-camp and OTAs, I was lost," Williams said. "I was trying to learn everything, and perform for my new coaches. I was just trying to get the concepts down.
"Now, it's completely different. I've got a year in the system. I've got a lot to learn, and a lot to work on, but I'm on the right track. Now's the time to show what I learned last year, and contribute this year on defense, too."
A Year Older, A Year Wiser
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