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After 24 Days, Williams Returns to Practice

Posted Jan 4, 2006

As expected, Darrent Williams returned to the practice field Wednesday after sitting out three and a half weeks with a pulled groin.


Darrent Williams
"I know I'll be ready to go next week," said cornerback Darrent Williams. PHOTO: JAMIE SCHWABEROW / RICH CLARKSON AND ASSOCIATES

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- One wouldn't think that a simple practice heading into a weekend without a game would send a player into giddiness. But when you're cornerback Darrent Williams and you haven't seen the field for football-related drills in 24 days, one can't help but have the emotional fires stoked.

As the cliché goes, absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.

"I'm very excited," Williams said following an hour-long session Wednesday. "I had my first day of practrice going through all the drills and going live against the receivers. It felt kind of good. It wasn't our usual full-tempo practice, but I was out there going as hard as I could."

It was another step forward for the rookie cornerback, whose recovery from a pulled groin suffered early in the 12-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 11 has been rapid.

Eight days after the injury, he was doing cardiovascular work, riding a stationary bike for 40 minutes and spending another four to five hours in treatment. Nine days later, as the Broncos were preparing to play the San Diego Chargers, he was working out on a treadmill and taking part in some individual drills.

Then came Wednesday, when he strolled onto the practice field along with his teammates, eager to get back to work. Williams noted that he didn't take part in any special-teams drills, but he did handle defensive work.

"Defensively, I pretty much did everything today -- all my drills, going against the receivers, so I felt pretty good," he said.

Returning to practice Wednesday now gives him another five practices to get ready for a potential return to game action by Jan. 14, when the Broncos open their playoff run against the Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots or Jacksonville Jaguars.

"We get the first round bye; it spelled me some extra time." Williams said. "So everything's working in my favor. I've been trying to work hard and get back on the field for the team since they got the first-round bye for me.

"Today felt real good, so I know I'll be ready to go next week."

The bye week is more than welcome, but if the Broncos needed to play in the wild-card round, Williams believed he could have joined his teammatesin action.

"I ran full speed, receivers took me on go routes and I was running right there with them (at practice Wednesday)," Williams said. "So I felt like if we played this week, I'd be ready to go."

But even with the extra week to prepare, Williams isn't certain whether his role will involve returning to his starting cornerback slot or manning the nickel duties that Domonique Foxworth handled before filling Williams' place in the starting lineup the past three games.

"Hopefully I'll get back to the same position I was in, but you never know," Williams said. "Coach (Mike Shanahan) is going to play it smart. Wherever the coaches put me, I know I'll get some time on the field, so whatever I need to do, I'm going to be ready to do it."