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For Williams, the Field Is His Classroom

Posted Jun 15, 2005

Darrent Williams found his first days of practice as a Bronco to be not unlike the first moments of a new school year.

williams_darrent_050609.jpgBy Andrew Mason

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When Darrent Williams showed up for his first series of Broncos practices on May 16, his college days at Oklahoma State were firmly in his rear-view mirror.

But the academic mentality remained.

"It’s like your first day of school," Williams said. "You first go to school and like going to a new grade. You get a book, you know some of the things but you really don’t know too much. It’s like reading a book and getting to know things and learning everything all over again."

If the recent practices were like school, then this juncture is summer vacation. Williams and the Broncos are off this week, and then he and the other rookies will go to the annual Rookie Symposium next weekend after another week back at the facility.

But just because Williams is off doesn't mean he isn't working.

"You have to look at (the playbook) at least once a day, -- especially me," he said. "I’m a young guy and don’t really doesn’t know a lot. I try to look at it at least once a day and also go over my notes."

When the team-camp practices were ongoing, Williams said that he got daily work on returns -- doing punt returns in the first week and kickoffs in the second. Even though he's listed as a cornerback, he knows that it's on returns where he can make a difference in 2005.

"I really don’t plan on playing a lot at corner but I plan on contributing on special teams and returning kicks," Williams said. "This year that will be my place to shine."

He's already proved he can be explosive on punt returns, averaging 21.9 yards per return on 22 opportunities during his last two seasons at Oklahoma State, while breaking three for touchdowns, so he's already proven successful at what is generally considered the more difficult of the two return disciplines.

"It is, because you've got to judge the ball and know when to fair catch and know where your blocks (are), you (have) got to catch the ball and try to make the first guy miss," Williams said. "(On) kickoff returns, you get the ball and you try to read your blocks."

Williams hopes that if he can master punt returning in the NFL, success on the kickoffs will follow.

"It's kind of harder catching punts but I've been doing it so long it's pretty easy to me," Williams said. "(On kickoff returns) you've got to have great blocking. If I get good blocking I can take it the distance any time. Both are really about the same right now. I think both are fairly easy. I think I do both of them pretty well."

But that's only through 14 organized team activities in the offseason. The preseason will surely provide a better barometer of just how much Williams can contribute as a rookie.