Williamson spent a lot of time during the 2007 offseason working on his vision and hand-eye coordination with vision experts from the Nike Institute in Oregon. He also caught over 10,000 footballs launched from the JUGS machine at Winter Park and offsite as well. However, the fruits of his practice labors didn't blossom on the field.
After starting six of the first seven games of the season, his opportunities dropped off as inconsistency on the field and tragedy off the field combined. His brother was in a coma for much of the season after an automobile accident and his grandmother died during the season. Williamson took nine days away from Winter Park for her funeral, and the Vikings initially docked him a paycheck for missing a game during that extended absence. Childress' players committee suggested the Vikings reinstate Williamson's pay, which the team did and he then said he would donate the check to charity.
On the field, however, dropped passes continued to plague Williamson, and in the final game of the season, with a greater opportunity again with Sidney Rice sidelined because of an ankle injury, Williamson dropped a wide open downfield pass that would have been a sure touchdown and another third-down pass. Both of the passes appeared to be easy catches.
They were just a microcosm of Williamson's rocky Vikings career after being the team's No. 7 overall pick in 2005.
"Troy worked extremely hard this offseason to try to better himself. He tried different things; we tried different things to improve," Childress said. "He is still under contract with the Minnesota Vikings and he is part of those ongoing discussions that we'll have next week when we talk about the receiver position."
Williamson has two years left on his contract. While he has an unguaranteed base salary of $910,000 in 2008, his contract calls for a hefty $3 million cap number. That's a steep price for a receiver who caught only 18 passes and one touchdown in 2007.
The Vikings are expected to look for another receiver in free agency or the draft.
"Suffice it to say we need to improve the pass game whether it be throw and catch, accuracy, protection, another good player," Childress said when asked about the receiver position. "We just need to improve that, and I think the more you improve that it's just a pick ‘em type of choice by the defense."
The Vikings signed six of their practice squad players to futures contracts this week.
The list includes guard Brian Daniels, wide receivers Joel Filani, Martin Nance and Justin Surrency, cornerback Dee McCann and running back Arkee Whitlock.
Daniels, a rookie free-agent signing in May out of Colorado, spent two weeks in October on the active roster with the Vikings and the rest of the season on the practice squad.
Filani, a rookie out of Texas Tech who was signed before the start of the regular season, spent the entire season on the practice squad.
Nance received a vote of confidence from Childress at the owners meetings last offseason as a potential contributor after limited opportunities at the end of the 2006 season. However, Nance ended up spending the entire season on the practice squad as well.
Surrency spent the spring over in NFL Europe and training camp with the Vikings. He spent time with the Seattle Seahawks in 2006 and wasn't re-signed to the Vikings practice squad until Dec. 13, 2007.
McCann spent time with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and 2007 after a collegiate career at West Virginia. He was signed to the Vikings practice squad on Oct. 14, 2007.
Whitlock, a 2007 undrafted rookie out of Southern Illinois, spent the entire offseason with the Vikings and the entire season on their practice squad.
FORMER VIKINGS FILL
Several former Vikings also were making postseason moves around the NFL this week:
When informed that a player said he was smiling more, Childress joked that "I am better medicated this year."