Tank Wants to Keep on Rolling

Safety Tank Williams hasn't played a down of football for the Vikings this season, but he's still around Winter Park and hoping his connections to the team will help bring him back for 2007. See what Williams has to say about his prospects for next year.

In early August, just a week into training camp, Vikings head coach Brad Childress issued a challenge to Tank Williams: "He's going to suck it up and rehab."

Childress was addressing the team's move that sent Williams, who fractured his kneecap just days into training camp, to the injured reserve and ended his 2006 season before it had ever begun. It should be noted that Childress did express his sympathy to Williams before challenging him to work his way back. But still, the last six months have been grueling mentally and physically as Williams has attempted to make his way back from being shelved to being a starting prospect for the 2007 Vikings.

First things first, though. Williams, who last April signed a one-year, $900,000 contract with the Vikings, is an unrestricted free agent after the season, meaning he is free to sign with any team he chooses. With one game left in the season that went awry, it is still unclear what stock the Vikings place in Williams, a 6-3, 220-pound safety.

"I've gotten to know a lot of defensive guys, offensive guys, coaches and trainers so I feel like this is a (team) on its way up and I definitely look forward to things to come here and I'd love to be a part of it," Williams said earlier this week. "It's one of those things where you just have to wait and see what happens."

Even though he suffered a season-ending injury early in training camp, the Vikings were able to monitor what they had in the hard-hitting safety during offseason minicamps. Since most of the Vikings participated in an offseason workout program at Winter Park, he was hardly a foreigner despite being on IR all season.

Williams thinks he has made enough of an impression that might lead to a re-signing.

"I'd like to think that because they wanted me here to begin with that they saw some things I can do that they liked," Williams said. "Before I got injured in training camp, I think they also saw some things they liked so I hope that's a good sign."

Even though he has not been with his teammates on the practice field for most of the past six months, he has developed relationships with players and coaches, including defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

"The coaches and players are always in a lot of meetings, but we definitely have good talks when they're on breaks," Williams said. "I stay in contact with Coach Tomlin. We pick each others' brain and we know what each other is thinking and that's definitely helped me stay positive during the rehab process."

Last season, Williams made a career-high 78 tackles and started all 16 games for the Tennessee Titans even though he was still nagged by an injury suffered in 2004, when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee, the same knee he injured again this season. The Vikings will certainly take into account that Williams has suffered two major knee injuries in the past three seasons.

"I just want to be 100 percent and be in the best position where I feel scheme-wise that I can do the best for myself and the team," Williams said. "The bottom line is I just want to get healthy right now and do what's best for the team.

"But what's going to happen will happen. Hopefully, it all plays out and they realize it was the right move to bring me in here and they want to keep me here. But that remains to be seen."

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