With Koren Robinson off the team, second-year wide receiver Troy Williamson is generally considered the No. 1 receiver on the Vikings' roster. That's a big expectation for someone who caught only 24 passes for 372 yards last year, but there are a few reasons Williamson and the Vikings don't seem all that concerned.
From the Vikings' perspective, they might not need a so-called No. 1 receiver. Those are just labels, says quarterback Brad Johnson. He just needs a number of good receivers in the West Coast offense to throw to.
From Williamson's perspective, he didn't get a lot of opportunities last year and is expecting more this year.
"Last year, they brought me in for a specific reason and they used me how they saw fit," he said. "Obviously, Coach (Brad) Childress sees something different with running different routes and stuff like that."
Not that last year was all bad for Williamson. He averaged 15.5 yards per catch, but he was being used mainly as a deep threat, which turned out to be a bit predictable. Which is why he's aiming to be a better all-around threat.
"My goal was to make myself better as a complete receiver, more than just a speed guy, being able to run any type of route or catch any type of ball," he said. "That was my main goal in the offseason and coming into camp. All that other stuff will fall into place."
So far, so good.
Williamson ended the preseason as the Vikings' second-leading receiver, behind running back Chester Taylor. Taylor had eight catches for 55 yards, and Williamson had seven for 104 yards.
Many of those yards have come after the catch. In fact, Williamson's biggest gain of the preseason came against the Baltimore Ravens when he caught a pass near the line of scrimmage, ducked under the cornerback's tackle and proceeded 40 yards down the sideline without his helmet, which was taken off on the attempted tackle he slipped after catching the ball.
"At South Carolina, they pretty much put me on everything. I ran pretty much anything from reverses to slants, and if anybody goes to look at my film back in college, I caught more slants for touchdowns and shallows and reverses for touchdowns than I did deep balls," said Williamson, who thinks this West Coast offense can fit his skill set. "I feel like it does because you've got different opportunities to catch different balls, with the deep ball, shallow crosses, hitches and stuff like that."
The two biggest knocks against the 6-1, 203-pound speedster were that he didn't run good routes and he had questionable hands. He addressed both of those concerns.
On his routes: "You can always improve, and I felt like I had a lot to work on. I feel like I'm at a point right now where I'm comfortable running routes, but there's a little more I have to do to make myself feel comfortable."
On the hands: "People are always looking and trying to find something that's wrong with a person. I feel like that wasn't even a big issue."
Williamson, who had skin graft surgery on his hip during the off-season to fix an absess as a result of a childhood fire that burned him, said he is having no problems with his hip and he felt good walking after the surgery.
There haven't been any signs that it slowed him down in the preseason, and he doesn't expect any problems with his receiving corps during the season, either, whether he's the No. 1 receiver or not.
"I feel we've got enough personnel to get the job done that Coach Childress is going to ask for. If we keep working together and doing what we have to do as a corps, we'll be fine," Williamson said. "The fans, they're going to get a show every time it's time for us to play."
Williamson Working to be More Complete WR
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