Nick Williams Relishes Role as Veteran Leader for Lions’ Defensive Line

Nick Williams

Getty Nick Williams trips up Deshaun Watson in a 2020 game.

Nick Williams seems to be firmly on the Detroit Lions’ roster bubble after changes on defense, but the lineman isn’t allowing that to dampen his approach with the team in the meantime.

Setting his sights toward the 2021 season, Williams knows what he can bring to the team, and it has everything to do with his mindset and how he can be an asset for what figures to be a young and unproven defensive line. At this point, Williams seems himself as a quality leader for the franchise.

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Speaking with the media after practice on Wednesday, August 25 in an interview posted to, Williams admitted that he is taking on the role of a wise elder-statesman at this point, and it’s a role he relishes in terms of being able to connect with the youngsters on the team.

“I’m nine years in so I talk to these guys about things I’ve gone through, bumps and bruises along the way, how to read what the offense is doing and just fundamentals all the way up. They kind of look at me as a leader, so I’ll take that role and kind of bring them along the way,” Williams explained.

That kind of knowledge could end up being an asset for the Lions, who have some young players up front who have to learn the ropes in Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. Getting those players to adjust to the league quickly could be a sneaky key to success for the Lions in 2021.

Williams himself likes what he has seen from this group in Detroit, and thinks the arrow is pointed firmly upward for the defensive line as a whole in 2021.

“They’ve been having a great camp, you can tell from the preseason games that they have kind of grown as players, some of our younger guys. So I’m looking forward to it, when roster cuts come we go from there, and I feel good either way,” he said.

Seeing Williams step up and lead could add an interesting wrinkle to his roster status. Clearly, the defensive lineman has faith in what he and the team are doing at a very key position for 2021.

Nick Williams Feeling Better After Recent COVID-19 Bout

One of the things which slowed Williams down significantly early in camp was his battle with COVID-19. Williams missed time on the field with his teammates which could be a critical development for him in terms of his place on the roster, but he is not worried in terms of any conditioning or game readiness potentially lost at all.

“I feel like I am right there. I’ve been taking reps in practice. I’m a pro at this point, a vet, so I’ll be ready when the time comes,” he said.

Specifically, Williams said that by most accounts, he had a fairly minor encounter with the virus given how he felt.

“I can only speak with what I went through with COVID. I was pretty fine. I know I was out 10 days, had some cold chills the first night and a slight headache the rest of the way. So I can only speak for what I went through in COVID,” he said.

With that behind him, Williams is hoping that he is able to stick on the roster. It was unfortunate timing for illness to strike, but it’s clear Williams is looking forward and not back at this point in time as it relates to his future.

Williams’ Career Stats and Highlights

Williams, a seven-year veteran, has bounced around the NFL throughout his career. He originally entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013, and by 2014, had joined the Kansas City Chiefs. After spending two-plus seasons there, Williams departed for the Miami Dolphins and spent a season there before signing with the Chicago Bears in 2018.

After putting up minuscule counting stats at every prior stop, Williams came into his own with the Bears in 2019, setting career-highs in nearly every category, including combined tackles (42), quarterback hits (nine), sacks (6.0) and fumble recoveries (two) in 16 games (five starts).

Known for his ability as a pass rush disruptor, Williams might not offer the Lions much against the run, but he can help collapse the pocket as his 2019 numbers prove. The hope is with more playing time, the 31-year-old can continue to play a big role and come into his own in Detroit. This past season, Williams put up just 1.0 sack and 23 total tackles despite starting 13 of 14 games. So obviously, the team could stand to use more from the journeyman lineman. The pressure figures to be on for that starting now.

Here’s a look at some of Williams’ previous work:

Currently in the second season of a two-year, $10 million free agent contract signed last March, 2021 could be a make-or-break season for Williams. At the very least, he is taking the right approach into a new season with the team.

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