Williams Brings Size And Savvy

Pat Williams was the first free agent to sign with the Vikings in March, and the team is hoping his impact on a young defensive line is nearly as quick. He brings size, experience and a Pro Bowl anchor to the middle of the defensive line, even if he didn't feel appreciated in Buffalo.

Pat Williams signed with the Vikings less than 24 hours into this year's free-agent signing period, and his acquisition is a key component to the Vikings' continuing theme to build their defense from the front back.

Besides back-to-back double-digit sack seasons for Lance Johnstone and Kevin Williams – and the latter going to the Pro Bowl after 2004 – the Vikings' defensive line hasn't had a consistent presence, one that puts fear in offenses. But around the league, from sports-talk radio shows to print journalists, NFL observers are talking up the newest version of the purple's front four.

Johnstone has put in his time in the league, but Kevin Williams is entering his third NFL season, Kenechi Udeze, Spencer Johnson and Darrion Scott their second and Erasmus James his first. Yes, the Vikings' defensive line is generally one of great hope and promise – and not as much experience.

Besides Johnstone and Pat Williams.

"I'll teach them all the small stuff – the technique, how to line up right, how to get off the ball and then most of all, win," Pat Williams said of working with the younger players.

Winning is a common theme when Williams talks about coming to Minnesota. The recruiting process was easy, as evidenced by his prompt signing.

"Eight years in football and I haven't gotten over the hump yet. I know the Vikings have a good offense. They were just missing this part and this part on defense – it was easy. I came here for one reason – to win.

"Houston was trying to get me, and Cincinnati, but I already knew I wanted to come here. It's the right place for me and the right situation."

That wasn't the case in Buffalo, where he was apparently perennially frustrated. When asked if Buffalo was concerned about him putting on too much weight (his 317-pound listing on the roster seems like part of a pound-shaving scandal), Williams isn't shy about his opinion on the Bills.

"(Buffalo general manager Tom Donahoe) doesn't know what he's doing down there. I want to play every snap. I don't have no weight problem, that's the other guys. I'm good."

"I guess they don't want to win. I'd been there eight years and had no problems. I didn't cause any problems."

Williams sounded downright frustrated with the situation in Buffalo, repeatedly saying he didn't know what the problem was there but that he didn't think they wanted to win. It's that last part that has him looking forward to his time in Minnesota, where he, like many in NFL circles, feels the Vikings have a chance to do well in the playoffs.

"I want to win some games first, and I want to win our division and get home-field advantage. I've been in football eight years and I've been to the playoffs twice," he said. "I want to see how it feels to get there and I want to get to the next level. I think the Vikings got it."

Another thing the Vikings have is defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, who also coached Williams in Buffalo.

"I love Ted. He's laid back. He's wants all his guys to play every snap," Williams said.

Williams says he still would have come to Minnesota if it weren't for Cottrell. But having a familiar face is as big a bonus to Cottrell as it is to Williams, who will be one of five or six new starters on defense but one of the few that has extended experience with Cottrell's system.

However intricate Cottrell's system may be, Williams' philosophy of how he plays is downright simply … and very old-school.

"I just love to work out. I love to beat centers up," he said.

What Williams bring to the Vikings, according to pro personnel director Paul Wiggin, a former NFL defensive lineman and defensive line coach, is the ability to occupy two offensive linemen without giving away the line of scrimmage. He plays with leverage and savvy, Wiggin says.

Williams may be great at technique, but even the casual observer can't help but notice his girth. His workout is lifting, treadmills and stepmasters, he said. But surprisingly, his diet isn't close to what some might imagine.

"Breakfast and lunch and nothing else," he said. "I was born big. I was like nine pounds (at birth). I was 240 in high school, and then when I went to junior college I was 265 and ended at 305."

Now he is listed – listed – at 317, but size aside, he also brings a mental edge to a young defensive line.

"It's all natural to me now. I can read offensive linemen quick," he said.

It didn't hurt having some of the best nose tackle mentors in the business, as Williams played alongside Ted Washington and Sam Adams. He still sees Washington often and says he's like a big brother.

Now that role of Pro Bowl talent playing mentor to young linemen falls to Williams.


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