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A Different World

Posted Sep 9, 2005

Darrent Williams flourished in the preseason, but he and his coaches know the regular season will show just what the second-round pick is made of.

 

Darrent Williams
Darrent Williams posted a sack, broke up three passes and notched 14 total tackles in four preseason games. PHOTO: TREVOR BROWN / RICH CLARKSON AND ASSOCIATES

By Andrew Mason

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The preseason is one thing.

What lies ahead Sunday is another matter entirely, and it doesn't take any regular-season experience to know the difference. All it takes is an open ear, which cornerback Darrent Williams has been more than willing to provide in his four-plus months as a Denver Bronco.

When seasoned players with Pro Bowl pedigrees like Al Wilson, Champ Bailey and John Lynch remind Williams that what begins Sunday is unlike anything he's experienced on a football field, the second-round pick nods. Little can fully prepare him for what he will experience in the steamy, sweaty crucible of an NFL game in the noonday sun of a South Florida afternoon, but at least he knows it will be different than the past four weeks.

"They've been telling me that since Day One," Williams said. "Al, Champ, John -- they've been telling me since Day One, that preseason is fast, and you'll get some work, but when the regular season comes, it goes a lot faster. Guys go harder."

Vive la difference. It's why Williams' successful preseason, while encouraging, represents little more than promise. The task of truly proving himself begins Sunday.

"We'll see," defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said. "It's a varsity game now."

At the very least, Williams' emotions will run at a quicker pace than even in the preseason, where he was wont to gesture wildly at a simple incompletion.

"You'll see me back there jumping up and down, going crazy," Williams said. "I'm going to be so amped up -- especially if we get the ball first, I'm going to be the first one to touch the ball. I'm just going to go out there and try to make something happen.

"I'm going to be so amped, I'm going to have to really calm myself down. I don't know what's going to be going through (my mind) when Sunday comes."

Probably something like what went through his mind for the preseason opener at Houston, when he started in place of Champ Bailey and hit the highs and lows in an eventful debut -- except it will be ratcheted up several degrees.

"(In) my first preseason game; I was so amped up," Williams said. "This is my first regular-season game, so I can imagine (that) my intensity is going to be so high; I'm just going to be so enthusiastic. I'm going to have to really calm down so I won't be so tired in the first quarter and not have enough energy to finish the game."

Lynch, for one, believes it won't be an issue, mainly because of all the on-field time with the first team he logged in the preseason, lining up against an impressive collection of receivers that included Houston's Andre Johnson and Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne.

"We've asked a lot of him," Lynch said. "I think he's had a tremendous advantage because of Champ being nicked there in the preseason, he was thrown in the fire right away. Most guys can't handle that. He handled it well and I think it's going to help him as he goes into the season.

"The regular season's a whole new ballgame and he knows that, but he's ready for the challenge."

A challenge unlike any other he's known in the sport -- the challenge of the NFL in the regular season.