Williams happy to be back at LB

For Sam Williams, his rookie year in 2003 might as well have been "Raider of the lost season."

The Oakland Raiders, who drafted Williams in the third-round from Fresno State, had high hopes as they moved him from linebacker to defensive end. Williams, who grew up in nearby Clayton Valley, CA, showed some promise in the preseason but sustained a knee injury that never healed properly.

It was described as a knee bruise to the bone but was the type of injury one sustains in a severe automobile accident. Williams returned to action to play his first game in Week 3 of the regular season, a 34-10 loss on Monday Night Football at Denver, only to aggravate that injury. Williams was then placed on injured reserve.

"Last year was my rookie year, I just got drafted," Williams said. "I was excited and ready to show some things and I found out I was playing defensive end. It was a switch. I got hurt. It was frustrating. It kind of put a damper on my whole year."

On paper, Williams is in his second season but in terms of experience, the 2004 season is essentially his rookie year.

"I've already been through training camp," Williams said. "I know what it's like in training camp. I've been around the team for a year now. Being a rookie, you don't really know anybody. That was probably the hardest part. I know where I fit in now."

The Raiders have since moved Williams back to linebacker, much to his pleasing.

"I feel a lot more comfortable back there," Williams said. "I feel free to be an athlete and play instead of going against the tackle on every play and being hesitant."

Williams weighed 245 when the Raiders drafted him but eventually bulked up to 260. He is now at 255. Oakland is going to employ a lot of 3-4 looks under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. In which case, Williams would line up on the outside but he has no preference which one.

"Anywhere on the field," Williams said. "I get to pass rush. I get to be a linebacker. I get the best of both worlds."

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