Williams back, looks for role with Broncos


Williams back, looks for role with Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Returning to a defense that didn't seem to miss him much, Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams is willing to do whatever it takes - even play special teams - to get back on the field after missing the first nine games of the season because of suspensions.

The ninth-year veteran, a former first-round draft pick, became eligible to regain his spot on the Denver roster Monday after missing six games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, then another three as the result of his second alcohol-related driving conviction.

``I hope, sooner or later, I can get back to the role that I had before I left,'' said Williams, who has started all but six of his 120 career games in the NFL. ``But I realize it's going to be difficult just to jump back into that. But I'm ready to go whenever they throw me out there.''

Even if that means special teams?

``What, am I going to say `No,' and just throw my hands in the air?'' he said. ``At the end of the day, I'm a football player. I'll play whatever position they ask me to play.''

The Broncos are expected to put Williams back on the roster later this week. Coach John Fox was noncommittal about the linebacker's role on the team, saying the coaching staff needs to see him practice before making any decisions. Williams led the Broncos in tackles in five of the past eight seasons.

``I haven't seen him since the end of last season,'' Fox said. ``I just know a season ago he was, arguably, our best linebacker. We'll work him back in. He's been working out hard. We'll see how it comes together. He's another guy we can draw from. We'll see where it fits.''

Though Williams is back with the Broncos, he still must serve a 30-day house arrest and two years of probation for his second alcohol-related conviction. That sentence is scheduled to start Feb. 7, 2013 - four days after the Super Bowl. He also has forfeited in the neighborhood of $4 million, from a combination of lost salary, money he had to pay back from his bonuses and the restructuring of his contract he agreed to because of the suspensions.

Holding court in front of his locker Monday, Williams said he has run the gamut of emotions as he's watched the Broncos defense start slow, then get better as time passed. He said his mom was there for him and he worked out at his alma mater, University of Miami, ``a close-knit family,'' he called it. The Broncos chose to keep Williams in their family, as well.

``I'm very thankful,'' he said. ``They could have gone a different route. They decided to keep me around. I'm thankful for that. So, now that I'm back, I'll just do what I've got to do to help the team win.''

On Sunday in a 36-14 win over Carolina, the defense recorded seven sacks, a touchdown and a safety. Linebacker Von Miller had a sack, a forced fumble and four tackles for a loss; he is now not only the best linebacker on this roster, but is being mentioned as a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Broncos also have been getting big-time contributions from linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking, who have taken bigger roles in Williams' absence.

Williams adds it all up and knows he's lucky to still be on this team. His teammates, meanwhile, are happy to have him.

``He's been through a lot this year,'' safety Rahim Moore said. ``I'm actually, as a friend, happy to see him back. He's smiling a lot more. So, it's a good thing. I know once he gets his legs back underneath him and once he gets into this mode that he was in last year, that's just another addition to our team.''

Williams was allowed back to team headquarters on Oct. 16, after the six-game suspension was finished. But he has been relegated to the weight and meeting rooms and not allowed on the practice field.

With the way the team is playing - and given Fox's reluctance to define a role for him - it's hard to imagine Williams regaining a starting role right away. He knows he's got some making up to do, both on the field and in the locker room.

``When you're watching games and things happen, you wish you could be out there watching your teammates,'' Williams said. ``But you know, I did the crime, I've got to do the time. It's over with now. Hopefully I can move on and help my team continue to keep winning.''

NOTES: CB Tracy Porter, who hasn't played since Oct. 7, said doctors have cleared him and figured out the dosage on the medicine he must take to prevent another seizure. He still doesn't know if that means he'll be cleared by the team to practice or play this week. ``I'm not having the any mood swings about it,'' Porter said. ``It's just life. My spirits aren't low, my spirits are high. I'm healthy and breathing. It's all I can ask for.'' ... Before the Broncos picked up returner Trindon Holliday on waivers, the Houston Texans had waived or released him four times, signed him three times to their regular roster and twice more to their practice squad. ``I think that's what they were trying to do again, is slide me through waivers and bring me back on the practice squad,'' Holliday said. ``I didn't have any hard feelings toward those guys. They gave me an opportunity. I was just taking it one day at a time and waiting for the next call.'' Holliday has scored touchdowns on kick returns two straight weeks for Denver. ... With the third-ranked offense and sixth-ranked defense, the Broncos joined Dallas and Detroit as the only teams in the league with both units ranked in the top 10. Of those teams, Denver is the only one with a winning record.


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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

Trent Williams wasn't at the Redskins' mandatory June minicamp or any of their OTA sessions, either, with reports suggesting he wants more money, is upset with the organization's medical staff or a combination of the two.

But even by not attending any offseason practice, Williams showed the Redskins something very important.

If he's not at left tackle for the team in 2019, the entire offense might fail. Not having their anchor on the left side could be an anchor to the whole campaign.

Even in sessions where the defensive line wasn't playing with full ferocity, they often times had no problems getting into the faces of Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum. Jay Gruden absolutely noticed. It was impossible not to.

Yes, it's necessary to point out Williams wasn't the only one missing up front. In fact, the collection was basically made up of second-stringers.

However, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier are all slated to be back when meaningful football resumes. Gruden, the passers and the running backs don't have to worry about them.

Yet they should all be quite petrified at the thought of not having No. 71 around.

A massive reason why is because of the present choices behind him. Ereck Flowers was brought in to try and be used at left guard, but with Williams absent, he saw heavy action on the outside. The results reminded everyone there of why he's being moved to the interior.

Aside from Flowers, the 'Skins have players like Tyler Catalina and Timon Parris on the roster. They fared better than Flowers when the media was able to watch practices in Ashburn, but they're nowhere close to being starting-caliber options, let alone ready to serve as replacements for one of the franchise's top contributors of the 2000s.  

That's a major factor into why it feels like Williams holds the leverage in his standoff with the Burgundy and Gold. There are other factors as well.

Whether or not Haskins wins the job coming out of Richmond remains to be seen. With that being said, the 15th overall pick will eventually take over as signal caller, and figures to take over for the long-term future. Haskins' early career beginning with someone other than Williams protecting him is the opposite of ideal.

Then, there's the fact that many decision makers believe the Redskins are "close" to breaking through. That step forward will not happen if Williams isn't suiting up.

Now, the team could just wait Williams out and see if he's really committed to the reported "vow" he's taken to never play in DC again. Would he still be content to not show up once he starts losing out on hefty game checks?

That's something the front office may decide to find out, and that route could easily force Williams into a place where he has to make the first move. It's a card they're holding, and a key card at that.

But still, the Redskins have a head coach who badly needs to succeed starting in September, an offense predicated on running the ball, a prized young QB about to embark on his NFL life and leaders up top who could use positive results on the field.

All of that is largely why, in his Tuesday story, JP Finlay wrote that perhaps improving Williams' contract and getting him back in the locker room appears to be how this'll all play out.

The storyline this offseason absolutely wasn't supposed to be about a battle between the Redskins and Trent Williams, but as of now, that's the topic everyone's talking about. It's now in Washington's best interest to ensure it doesn't carry over beyond Week 1.

For that to happen, it seems like the team will have to appease the player. That's not common in the NFL, but not many players find themselves with the leverage Williams possesses.  


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Report: Deputy considering lawsuit against Raptors' Masai Ujiri

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Report: Deputy considering lawsuit against Raptors' Masai Ujiri

The sheriff's deputy who allegedly got into an altercation with Raptors president of operations Masai Ujiri has retained a lawyer and is considering filing a lawsuit against the Raptors executive, according to a report. 

David Mastagni, the newly hired attorney, told San Francisco TV station KPIX reporter Katie Nielsen and the Associated Press that the Alameda County sheriff's deputy was unable to work and had a concussion from the incident following the Raptors' NBA championship win at Oracle Arena last week.

Sgt. Ray Kelly told NBC Sports Washington last week that Ujiri wasn't wearing the proper credentials to celebrate with the Raptors on the court at Oracle Arena after his team won the final. When the sheriff's deputy tried to stop him, according to Kelly, he was pushed and struck in the face by Ujiri. 

Ujiri was eventually identified and allowed on the floor. He was seen moments later celebrating with the Raptors players on the ABC broadcast. 

Last week a Raptors spokesperson told NBC Sports Washington that the incident “is being looked at, and we are cooperating with authorities. We look forward to resolving the situation.” When reached on Tuesday, the spokesperson said there was no further comment.

On Tuesday, KPIX's Nielsen reported that Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern had reviewed body camera and security camera footage of the incident and supports the deputy. According to the report,  he is recommending the case move forward to the District Attorney for charges of misdemeanor battery of a police officer.

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig reported earlier that the Wizards were preparing an offer to try to lure Ujiri from Toronto to take the vacant top position in the team's front office - though Ujiri, while celebrating at the parade in Toronto on Monday, might have hinted that he wasn't interested in leaving quite yet. "We will continue to win in Toronto," he told fans.