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Youth Movement

Posted Aug 14, 2005

Rookie cornerback Darrent Williams shows why the Broncos picked him up in the 2005 Draft during the team's first preseason game at Houston.


williams_texans_081305.JPGHOUSTON – Some rookies are lucky just to get their cleats grass stained in the first exhibition game of the season. Darrent Williams got that and a whole lot more during the Broncos 20-14 victory at Houston Saturday night.

The rookie cornerback was on the field from the opening kickoff – which he returned – and stayed on the field when the first team defense was called out. He was even on the field when the punt team was pulled from the sideline.

While veterans and other rookies on the team came and went, Williams was still seeing action in the fourth quarter.

All in all, the 5-foot-8, 188-pounder out of Oklahoma State, proved himself worthy of being Denver’s first selection in the 2004 Draft.

Williams finished the game with two kickoff returns for 50 yards and four punt returns for 10 yards. On defense, he was credited with two passes defensed and two tackles, including one hit on Jonathan Wells that froze the 252-pound Texans running back for no gain. Williams lowered his shoulder into Wells, who has a wider frame and weighs 64 pounds more than the cornerback.

“I’m pretty impressed,” Head Coach Mike Shanahan said of the rookie. “I’ve been pretty impressed in the way he’s handled himself in camp. I’m more impressed in the three practice against them. How he's competed and how he’s performed.”
 
Coaches were pleased, fans saw flashes of brilliance and Williams showed a humble nature almost as quick as his foot work on his first punt return.

“I feel like I won’t be as nervous (in the next preseason game),” he said. “I’ve kind of settled down.”

Williams was drafted with his special teams ability in mind. His size may look like a disadvantage, but don't be fooled and lose sight of his speed. When coaches decided to rest starting cornerback Champ Bailey in the team’s first preseason game, Williams was willing and waiting.

“I knew taking Champ’s place I had big shoes to fill, even in a preseason game," he said. "So I just wanted to go out there and make some plays and not be the weak link on defense because we have a lot of great veteran players. I just wanted to go out there and play hard and show them I could play on this level.”

The rookie returned the first kickoff of his career 24-yards, then had a little break before he took the field with the defense.

That’s one of the few times things got shaky for the speedster.

He was burned once by Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson. He knew teams would pick on him, so he learned.

Williams was also flagged for pass interference on Texans wide receiver Corey Bradford in the front corner of the end zone. He said he doesn’t completely understand the call, but knew that he probably should have looked back for the ball sooner and expected officials to throw more flags in the preseason.

The call gave Houston the ball first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. The Broncos responded with a solid stand, turning back four-straight rushing attempts and keeping the Texans out of the end zone.

That made it a little easier, but Williams is not one to settle. There is work to be done, and three more preseason games to do it.

"I’m going to go watch some film and coach is going to coach me up so I’ll be prepared and more ready than I was for this game," Williams said matter-of-factly. "I treat every game I play as a real game because there really isn’t a preseason to me, a young guy who has never really played an NFL season.”