Pat Williams Talks Defense

Pat Williams just agreed to a three-year contract extension, and he recently talked about the competition among the defensive linemen, the issue of sacks and tackles-for-losses and where he's seen improvement over last year. See what the big defensive tackle had to say about those topics.

Pat Williams can smile now that he has agreed in principle to a three-year, $22 million contract that will keep him with the Minnesota Vikings through 2010.

Just over two weeks ago, Williams sounded somber about his chances to remain in Minnesota.

"Everything isn't falling in place like it's supposed to, but I'm not chirping about it. I'm just going out and enjoying myself like I'm supposed to and not worrying about it," Williams said of contract talks on August 21.

At the time, his agent, Angelo Wright, had publicly stated that he and the Vikings had broken of contract talks, but Williams remained a professional during trying circumstances.

"I don't let it bother me none. I just focus on the season," he said about talks ending.

As it turned out, talks resumed shortly thereafter and the two sides reached that lucrative agreement on Wednesday.

Throughout the process of the Vikings extending the contracts of players like linebacker E.J. Henderson and defensive tackle Kevin Williams during the 2006 season, Pat Williams knew that his contract was set to expire following the 2007 season, but the personable big man kept proclaiming his support of what he views as a changed head coach in Brad Childress.

"Coach Childress is just more open with players – smiling more, talking to them more," Williams said.

But maybe the biggest reason Pat Williams wanted to stay in Minnesota was to continue to team with Kevin Williams inside to form one of the league's most formidable interior defensive lines. And the competition for the two Pro Bowl tackles doesn't just start and end on Sundays during the season.

"We all have competitions, like me and Kevin every week, we're always trying to outplay each other," Pat said. "We've got our own goals going. It's like a boxing match … that's just me and Kevin going out there every week and trying to outplay each other."

This year, the biggest challenge will be increasing the sack total among the defensive line, and Pat views himself in more of a setup role for others in that regard.

"Basically me and Kevin have got to get a push up the middle. Push a guy or run-stuff a guy," Pat said. "Kevin's the sackmaster and our ends are getting up the field better. Our ends are playing great this offseason."

At 317 pounds, Pat had only one sack last year and 14 quarterback hurries, but that's not his role. He is the run stuffer and maybe the most important part in the Vikings' No. 1-ranked run defense from last season. So he doesn't worry about his personal sack totals or setting a goal for himself in that regard.

"I just go out there to have fun. This year, me, Kevin and (Kenechi) Udeze have a tackles-for-loss (contest). I told them I'm going to get about 20 this year. I think Udeze beat me by about one last year. He's been talking smack all offseason, but I told him it ain't going to be close."

Actually, Udeze beat Pat by two – Udeze had 13 and Pat 11 – and Kevin Williams had nine. The overall tackle totals between the three can be reversed, with Kevin Williams getting 73 in 2006, while Pat had 59 and Udeze 45.

So it's no surprise that Pat is expecting big things from the defense again this year.

"It's great. We're just having fun. Basically we've got all the guys on the same page now. We all talk more now. We all call each other, we all hang around each other, we all go out to eat together so everybody is on the same page," he said.

Asked if communication was a problem last year, Pat said: "As far as guys doing their own thing. Now everybody is more together as a team, everybody is on the same page. Everybody knows what Coach Childress is trying to do now and talks to him more. So everybody is together and everybody is feeling good."

That holds especially true for the 34-year-old Pat Williams after agreeing to stay with the Minnesota Vikings for 2007 and three years beyond.


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