The four-year veteran who was the Mackey Award winner as college football's top tight end in 2010, and who entered the NFL as a 2011 fifth-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers, hasn't had the NFL career he hoped for at this point. The Patriots are his third team after he also had a brief stop with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013.
"After last year, I fell into that whole trap, even being very successful in college football -- winning the Mackey Award -- and feeling on top of my game, I got really comfortable. Success kind of started helping me contribute to hurt myself," Williams told co-hosts Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on the "Afternoon Drive" program.
"I started feeling comfortable enough when I was going through getting cut, blaming it on 'They just paid their draft pick $15 million' or 'I just pulled a hamstring just when it was my chance to take over.' I started seeing how those became excuses and started to realize that the only person that could dictate any of my outcomes is myself. Every day has been a complete competition with myself. My mom texts me and she's like, 'Did they draft a tight end? Are they going to bring in somebody else?' It really doesn't matter because the person I need to beat every single day is D.J. Williams. That's been my approach every day and it's been working out great."
Williams has been sidelined in Patriots organized team activities with a strained calf, but is expected to be ready for training camp. At 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, he projects to a "move" tight end role.
Williams' appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio was tied to some off-field work he's doing in the region, and he also talked about lessons learned along the way.
"I've learned a lot and I've been through a lot and it takes a lot sometimes to go through what I went through to really find out how to really get stuff done. That's really what I've taken from experience, especially last year going to three different teams in a matter of a few months, being cut three different times. It's very stressful, very tolling on the mental aspects of the game and what you bring to the table," he said. "Those situations will really make or break you and I'm trying to learn everything I can from those situations and try to be a better player, a better competitor and an overall better person from it."