Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams was one of the more impressive rookies in the league in 2015, and with a full professional season under his belt, he says he is ready to take his game to the next level. Said Williams, “I know the playbook now, so I don’t have to think as much when I’m out there, I can just play. It’s less pressure now that I’m not a rookie anymore, and I don’t have to have that tag or label on me. It’s just been more comfortable overall this year” (article via Kaylee Pofahl of The New York Post).
After racking up 63 tackles and three sacks last season, Williams indicated that he has put a special emphasis on his pass rush during offseason workouts in an effort to become a more complete player. As Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com writes, Williams and defensive line cohort Sheldon Richardson are two big reasons why New York has not made more of an effort to sign Muhammad Wilkerson to a long-term deal.
Now let’s take a look at some more links from around the league:
- Mark Herzlich, despite being a former undrafted free agent who is neither a star nor a starter, has defied the odds and has played five seasons in the NFL, all with the Giants, with season number six right around the corner. He is by all accounts a good person whose battle with cancer has been inspirational and, thus far, successful, but his on-field contributions have been fairly limited. However, even though one of Herzlich’s biggest fans in former head coach Tom Coughlin is gone, he still has plenty of supporters, including team president and co-owner John Mara. As Paul Schwartz of The New York Post writes, Herzlich has simply made himself exceedingly popular both on and off the field, and therefore difficult to cut. There is something to be said for positive influences in a locker room, and Herzlich’s contributions in that regard have allowed him to carve out a surprising NFL career.
- Giants wide receiver Roger Lewis, who signed with the club as a UDFA this year, was charged with two counts of raping a girl, with whom he had prior sexual relations, when he was 18. He ultimately was acquitted of one of the charges and pleaded down another for an admission he lied to police during the investigation, and he now has the opportunity to live out his NFL dream, despite not hearing his name called on draft weekend. He has draft-worthy ability, but teams likely shied away from him as a result of the not-too-distant criminal charges, as Matt Schneldman of The New York Post writes. As a UDFA on a team loaded with wide receiver talent, Lewis has a major uphill battle to make Big Blue’s roster, but at this point he is playing with house money and is simply grateful for the chance to play and to further remove himself from his troubled past. He has shown flashes in offseason workouts and could get a chance with another club if he is unable to land a spot with the Giants.
- Jordan Zumwalt, the Steelers‘ sixth-round pick in 2014, spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons on injured reserve with a hip injury, and the hip surgery that ended his 2015 campaign before it started took over five hours to complete and included a brutal recovery/rehabilitation period. Now hopefully healthy, Zumwalt has been working exclusively at inside linebacker in offseason workouts, as Ray Fittipaldo of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, and he still has a chance to make the club in that role as the Steelers seek to replace Sean Spence and Terence Garvin. The odds, however, remain stacked against him.
- Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune looks at five veteran Buccaneers who could be on the roster bubble, a list headlined by tight end Brandon Myers and right tackle Gosder Cherilus.