This interview with then Denver Broncos defensive captain DJ Williams was first published prior to the start of the 2008 NFL season.
For most NFL fans outside of Denver, DJ Williams isn’t a household name. But the Denver Broncos front office is betting $32 million dollars that it won’t stay that way for long.
Less than two weeks ago starting linebacker Williams signed a five-year, $32 million dollar deal with $13 million in guaranteed money that many felt was past due.
Over the previous four years, Williams has been Denver’s most reliable defender, suiting up and excelling at each of the three linebacking positions in Denver’s 4-3 scheme.
Williams spent 2004 at the weak side, 2005-06 on the strong side and 2007 as the middle linebacker before returning to his preferred position of weak side linebacker for the 2008 season which was slated to be the final year of his five-year rookie contract.
The new contract puts him amongst the top five highest paid non rushing LB’s in the NFL, alongside names like Lofa Tatupu and Keith Bullock.
Williams’ 141 tackles a year ago were second most in the NFL. His 12 tackles (one sack) thru the first two games of 2008 lead the Broncos.
How nice was it to finalize the contract prior to week one?
DJ Williams: “Actually, it took a lot of my mind and that’s why the Broncos do it. They try to get the contracts done prior to the year starting so their players can focus on making plays, not worry about where they are going to be next year.”
Difference between last season’s start and this year’s 2-0 start?
“We gel a lot better this year. We made a few minor adjustments, like moving Nate Webster to MLB and me to WLB. But going thru an off-season after a 6-10 season, that makes you work extra hard because you don’t want to go thru that gain.”
What is wrong with the Raiders?
“Same problem we had last year, they just aren’t gelling. They have a lot of talent but they just aren’t playing together. But it’s a long season, its only week three. We had a few extra days to prepare for the Raiders. Plus it’s a rivalry game on a Monday so it wasn’t all their fault; we were ready to play.”
What was going thru your mind when coach Shanahan decided to go for two last week?
“It wasn’t a knock on the defense at all like some people are saying. I just believed he had faith in the offense; one play to win the game and it turned out to be a great decision.”
Do you think LaDainian Tomlinson has lost a step?
“He started off last season poorly and the team struggled and look how they finished up. Him and the team turned it on after that and they were within one game of the Super Bowl. LT is battling a turf toe injury right now but he hasn’t lost a step. Once he heals all the way he’ll be back to normal.”
Is Darren Sproles for real?
“Definitely, you saw it on Sunday with the return and the screen play. He’s quick has great balance and is strong. People knock him for his size but I think it helps him because he is hard to see in the back field.”
What about Eddie Royal so far?
“He really picked it up when we needed it with Brandon Marshall out. The first game he basically single handedly beat the Raiders and then versus the Chargers he made two huge catches to win the game.”