Kevin Williams could have skipped the Vikings' voluntary organized team activities this week and not suffered much financially after restructuring his contract and taking a pay cut.
Instead, the 10-year veteran was at the first two days of Vikings OTAs this week and joking around with head coach Leslie Frazier. One of the reasons Williams attended is to help first-round pick Sharrif Floyd, who will eventually take over for Williams, likely after the expiration of Williams' new contract following the 2013 season.
Williams said he considered skipping the voluntary practices, but …
"It's just a chance to get better. We've got a lot of young guys. If we're going to count on these young guys, they need some type of veteran leadership around showing them the right ways to do things," Williams said. "I take it on myself to be a leader and, yeah, maybe me and the front office didn't agree on the contract situation, but I'm still here to do a job."
Despite taking a $2.5 million hit on his earnings with a restructured contract, Floyd, who was expected to be a top-five selection in April's draft but fell all the way to the Vikings at No. 23 overall, credited Williams for his assistance in early practices.
"He watched me go through my reps and then corrects me on some stuff, tells me how to get it done better and more efficient. So, he's helping a lot," Floyd said.
"It's been great having a teacher in front of me that's been through it before, a decade-plus. It's great. I'm glad I got that in front of me to learn from and to build off of."
At the Vikings' initial practices, Floyd, like the rest of the rookies, wasn't with the starters. Williams maintained his position at under-tackle and Fred Evans was used mostly as the starter at nose tackle alongside Williams instead of last year's starter, Letroy Guion.
Floyd was relegated to a backup role while learning the basics of defensive line play.
"He's an athletic guy. He definitely can move and he's a strong kid. Now we just get him in our terminology and just getting him functioning the way we do things over here and let him make plays," Williams said.
"I just look at it as we're trying to get better. If we can bring a young guy to help us win and he just so happens to play my position, so be it. I still think I'm the top dog here and until proven otherwise, we're going to go with it."
Last year, Williams played in 71 percent of the defensive snaps, so after 10 years in the league, more of a rotational role might a benefit. Either way, Floyd appears to a winner in the situation.
"It's great and having him in front of me … to just learn from him and sit back and listen, and things like that. So, it's good," Floyd said.
"Just taking it all in and letting him teach me what he wants to teach me, and tell me some things to help me along the way."
Floyd said the game doesn't change from college to the NFL, it just speeds up – "nothing I can't get used to."
For Floyd, the key is to be alert and take it all in.
"Just pay attention. Don't be the guy that you always have to repeat stuff," Williams said. "You're not always going to get a rep at something, so try and absorb it up when the older guys do it and it will save on all the confusion and the bickering over whether you're getting the plays right."
Now is the time to go through that learning process for Floyd, and so far he appears fortunate to have a former Pro Bowl player like Williams willing to help.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Still the ‘top dog,' Williams helping Floyd
Viking Update Top Stories
Vikings shut out from compensatory picksWhile four teams were awarded four compensatory picks each in the 2017 NFL Draft and 16 teams got at least one compensatory pick, the Minnesota Vikings weren't among them.
Scout NFL Network12:29 PM
Podcast: Keys to Shurmur, keys for SouhanJim Souhan arrives late, rants on technology and we eventually dive into Pat Shurmur’s strengths and more Minnesota Vikings topics.
Viking Update8:32 AM
Spielman saw progress in Kalil before injuryThe Minnesota Vikings will be looking for a left tackle in free agency, but that might not exclude their own free agent, Matt Kalil.
Viking Update7:15 AM
Outside Linebacker: Replacing GreenwayIt’s been almost two months since the Vikings’ last game and we’re still waiting for the announcement of Chad Greenway’s retirement. Who will replace him? There are candidates.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 10:44 PM