SAN ANTONIO – Wade Phillips described young outside linebacker Brandon Williams’ burst off the ball as “DeMarcus Ware-like,” which is quite a compliment for a fourth-round pick who has yet to play a down in the NFL.
But it’s true, according to Ware.
“He’s getting off the ball so fast that sometimes I feel like it’s me when I’m watching film,” Ware said.
The biggest pre-draft knock on Williams, who led the Big 12 in sacks as a Texas Tech junior, was that he had pedestrian speed (4.95 40 at the combine). But he’s a guy who gets to top speed seemingly in one step, which is one of the most important traits for an edge rusher.
Williams sat out his rookie season after tearing his ACL during a preseason game last summer. The Cowboys had hoped that he could play 10-15 snaps per game as a situational pass rusher to help keep Ware and Anthony Spencer fresh.
Williams is limited to one practice per day for precautionary reasons, but he’s already shown enough for a perennial All-Pro to believe he can help a defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFC last season.
“You can try to play every play, but you’re not going to play every single tip-top,” Ware said. “To be able to have a guy to come in and give you a spell – me or Spencer, that can play either side – that’s good. I think Brandon is that guy. I think Brandon can do it.”
Ware experienced the benefit of being fresh in the win over the Saints last season, when he was limited to passing situations due to the strained neck he suffered the previous week. He said he was “running like a wild animal” in the win that he capped by sacking and stripping Drew Brees.
Ware doesn’t want to take a ton of plays off, but he’s more than willing to come off the field on occasion to give Williams a chance to chase the quarterback.
“If Brandon Williams comes into the game, I’ll make sure I’ll hide behind the water cooler,” Ware said, playing along with a kidding question referring to Greg Ellis’ bizarre claim after his Dallas departure. “I’ll actually drink a little bit of water, too, then I’ll go back out there.”