Sunday, August 03, 2008

Williams' ability questioned

by: STEPHEN HAWKINS Assocoated Press
8/3/2008 12:00 AM

Campo considers the former Sooner a starter for Dallas.

OXNARD, Calif. — Roy Williams was a rookie from Oklahoma and just beginning to build his reputation as a hard-hitting safety the last time he was with coach Dave Campo.

During the last five seasons Campo was away from the Dallas Cowboys before coming back as secondary coach, Williams was a Pro Bowl player every year — and still the team's second-leading tackler last season.

Yet, there have been mounting questions about Williams' ability in pass coverage since he often watched from the sideline on obvious passing downs last year, and how he still fits into the Cowboys defense.

Williams certainly didn't help change such perceptions when he admitted in a radio interview during the offseason that there were times he hoped passes weren't thrown his way because he knew he couldn't cover the receiver.

Then teammate Terence Newman, repeating what former coach Bill Parcells once told him, said Williams at times last season was "looking like a deer in the headlights" — though Newman later emphasized that he didn't say that's how Williams looked all the time.

"Sometimes when you hear a lot of negative things, you start to think maybe they're right and it changes your mentality and how you go about things," Campo said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm as positive as I can be because I think the kid ... still has what it takes to be a Pro Bowl player."

Walking off the field after practice at training camp long after the rest of his teammates had already gone inside, Williams said the criticism and the questions don't surprise him.

He considers that part of the job.

"The only thing that really bothered me is for people to say that I'm not a team player," Williams said.

"You can say whatever you want but don't question if I love my teammates or if I care for them."

Sure he still wants to be on the field as much as possible, but Williams said he will do whatever he's asked to do in the Cowboys defense.

Even if that winds up meaning he comes off the field on certain plays.

Campo considers Williams an unquestionable starter, though after a week of training camp, it hasn't been determined exactly what the safety's overall role will be and in which packages he will play.

Along with his renewed Christian faith, Williams is wearing a new number (No. 38) and has rededicated himself as a player.

"I just have a new expectation of life. Things are totally different."