ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --As soon as Sylvester Williams arrived in Denver, Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio already knew who the rookie defensive tackle reminded him of.
Last year, a young defensive lineman named Derek Wolfe stepped into Dove Valley and immediately made an impact. By the end of his rookie season, he had started every game and finished third on the team with six sacks.
"Both of these young men, you've watched them come in the building — they both have approached it very similarly," Del Rio said during the team's rookie minicamp. "Come in kind of determined, serious, mature in their approach. I think you're going to see Sylvester be able to come in and impact us in a similar way."
It only makes sense that the two linemen have bonded quickly.
Wolfe, who has taken it upon himself to step up as a leader in year two, said he has taken Williams under his wing as the former University of North Carolina Tar Heel makes the transition to the pros.
"He's got a ton of potential and he wants to learn," Wolfe said. "So I just tell him, 'Hey, just come with me.' When we're lifting he's with me and on the sidelines he comes over and he stands by me. He's really good at learning and he's doing a really good job."
Williams said Wolfe was a player he immediately knew he wanted to seek out once the rookies joined the veterans in the club's offseason conditioning program.
"When I first came in he was one of the guys that I kind of keyed in on as a guy that I was going to stick behind him because I knew he was going to do the right thing," he said.
The biggest lesson he's learning from his fellow lineman is the importance of hard work. That's not a foreign concept to Williams, whose drive paved the way from factory worker to junior college standout to a key cog in the Carolina defense and eventually a first-round pick.
"The thing I take from him is play hard all the time," Williams said. "He's a hard-nosed type of guy and he gives 100 percent to everything he does. In the weight room, this is the kind of guy that's doing extra reps and some guys are struggling to get all the reps they're supposed to do."
The weight room is where Williams feels his work to step into the NFL game begins. He said his work with "Coach Luke" -- Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Richesson -- has been one of the most important aspects of the OTA period.
Another is his work in the film room.
Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson said Williams needs to work on his technique using his hands, because when he uses his hands, he can "dominate." The rookie has taken that advice to heart, "watching as much film as (he) can" to pick up on offensive keys so that he can simply react instead of hesitating to read the play before he gets his hands on the offensive linemen in front of him.
"I definitely see myself getting better every day," Williams said. "Every day I say, OK, something I didn't do as well the day before, I feel myself getting better. So it's a steady progress."
That work ethic isn't lost on Williams' teammates or his defensive coordinator.
"That is what I like about the way he's started here, that he's come in here very determined, very serious, very mature, very much about his business," Del Rio said. "That is good for all of us."