Buffalo Bills’ DT Kyle Williams has been out with an injury for nearly 10 months now. Nearing the end of his career, will he continue to be the Bills’ starter?
When the Buffalo Bills drafted Kyle Williams out of LSU with their fifth-round, 134th pick overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, they didn’t know that he would be one of the Bills’ most important defensive tackles for the next 10 years. Now entering his 11th season as a 33-year old, Bills’ fans are starting to wonder what the future holds for the veteran.
Speculation grew even bigger when they defensive tackle went down with an injury last season, an injury he originally described as a “meniscal issue.” Suffered in Week 6 against the Cinicinnati Bengals, it would later be labeled a sprained PCL and would miss the rest of the season, although the recovery period was originally just four weeks.
In his absence, Corbin Bryant handled most of the load with Alex Carrington, who would also go down with an injury last season, adding some help. However, after changing their defensive scheme this offseason and seeing some of that depth part ways with the team, the Bills weren’t left with that same comfort at defensive tackle. With his career likely nearing his final years, it was apparent that the Bills would need to add players behind him — just incase.
Early this offseason, Kyle Williams helped the Bills gain some of that comfort. With two years remaining on his contract, Williams figured it was right to restructure his deal and give the Bills some wiggle room in free agency. The two sides agreed to a new deal, which saw his base salary in 2016 drop from $6 million to $4.25 million. It gave the team nearly $1.5 million to spend on other players, ultimately helping them get some added insurance.
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Before the draft started, the Bills only had three players — Jerel Worthy (right defensive end), T.J. Barnes (nose tackle) and Lavar Edwards (left defensive end) that could really replace Kyle Williams, but only one is comfortable with his position on the defensive line: Jerel Worthy.
Worthy is currently the No. 2 right defensive end on the depth chart and has been impressing coaches so far this offseason. He seems to be the clear choice to replace Kyle Williams if needed, although he should return for action in Week 1. He is showing a lot of dedication to the team and optimism moving forward. In an interview with Buffalo News, he stated:
“If I go out there and do everything I’m supposed to do and trust in my abilities, the sky’s the limit. I don’t feel like there’s anything I can’t do.”
With that being said, is there any chance that he takes over as the starting right defensive end? Well, I wouldn’t completely rule it out, given Kyle Williams’ current physical state and the fact that he’s aging. However, he seems poised to be ready for Week 1 and should be ready to lead the Bills’ defense to a hopeful playoff run. He stated in an interview with BuffaloBills.com that he is hoping to be “ready to go in September.”
Adolphus Washington Effect
Another thing to keep in mind is the Bills’ third-round draft pick, Adolphus Washington. Although he is most comfortable on the left side, Washington could play a major role in this situation. The current starter on the left side is Corbin Bryant, the same player that replaced Kyle Williams’ last season. Already proven as someone who can fill that spot when needed, the Bills can always go that route if it comes down to it. That would leave the left side open for Adolphus Washington, giving him the chance to make a name for himself in his rookie year.
As of right now, the Buffalo Bills are hoping for a swift Williams’ recovery for a Week 1 return. He seems to be on the right path to make that happen and if it does, then he will be the starting right defensive end for the team. However, if things don’t go as planned, then they will have to make a few changes.
With the way OTA’s and camps have gone so far, I would see the Bills moving Corbin Bryant to the right side in the case of a Williams’ injury or setback. If that happens, Adolphus Washington would start on the left side, someone who can easily be a pivotal part of this defense.
All in all, expect to see your longest-tenured Bills’ player out there getting sacks in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.
What are your thoughts on Kyle Williams heading into this season? Leave comments below!