Lessons Learned: Nick Williams
November, 22, 2013
By John Keim | ESPN.com
Here are some things Washington Redskins rookie punt returner Nick Williams learned last week -- and other thoughts he had confirmed.
- Don’t drift too much. That’s what happened to Williams on the Eagles’ final punt, a 70-yarder that rolled out of bounds at the Redskins 4-yard line. Donnie Jones had kicked to Williams’ left on three of his first four punts, so the rookie anticipated another to that side. It went the other way and Williams took himself out of position to make the catch. “I could have been more in the middle of the field. I overplayed to his tendency,” Williams said. “He boomed it and it bounced a favorable bounce, which was insult to injury. If I’m in better position pre-snap, I could have made a play on the ball.”
- Ignore the last return. Williams knows this, but admitted it was difficult considering it was his first game with the Redskins in this role (and he muffed one). “It’s hard,” he said. “It definitely is something that is hard to overcome especially being young. If you’re a 15-year vet and back there 10 years, it might be easier. You have to believe in yourself and know that you’ve done it many times before and done it in practice. If you miss, you just have to move on and be professional about it and have a one-play mentality…. It comes with the territory. Every single player has a role like that. The left tackle is put on an island and the long snapper has to make a snap to kick a game-winning field goal. But the punt return is highlighted.”
- Make the play. Williams was pleased with his decision-making overall, though his execution could have been better. He read the ball properly on the punt he muffed, but when the ball drifted on him he found himself in a tough position to make a clean catch, instead having to reach up. But one thing Williams knew was not to force a return. In fact, he didn’t return any of the five punts. “It has to come naturally,” he said. “The game has to allow it to happen. Being back there, you have to make the right decision … so when that play does come you can take advantage of it. ...I definitely have a lot of room to improve.”