Jacksonville Jaguars' Troy Williamson Is The Forgotten Man
The only time you ever hear about certain players on the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster is when they are signed, cut, or get in trouble. They are the forgotten few on a team already lacking household names. Some of these players will be embroiled in high-profile position battles during training camp.
Still, they barely show up on the radar screen when discussing these battles.
Some players are so invisible they almost need to get their picture on the side of a milk carton to gain any sort of recognition.
One such player is wide receiver and former first-round selection, Troy Williamson.
When the Jaguars traded for Williamson last year, the investment was minimal. In return for the former top ten draft pick, the Jaguars gave up a sixth round selection in the 2008 draft.
The hope was that a change of scenery would do Williamson a lot of good.
Unfortunately, the speedy receiver, panned as a guy with blazing speed and hands of stone wound up struggling to get on the field for most of the season as a result of a leg injury. He finished the season with only five receptions and 30-yards of receiving to his credit.
The predominant expectation for Williamson entering 2009 was that he would not be on the roster for very long.
Jerry Porter, Reggie Williams, Dennis Northcutt, and Matt Jones were all sent packing following a disappointing 2008.
Somehow Williamson survived.
Perhaps the team was practicing some level of patience.
Coming out of South Carolina in 2005, Williamson was one of the more highly touted receivers in the draft. He struggled for three years trying to overcome an issue with dropped passes before the Minnesota Vikings had grown weary of his unfulfilled potential.
He was not a receiver known for dropping passes in college. In fact, as a junior he led the Southeastern Conference in receiving touchdowns (7) and receiving yards per game (83.5). He tied an SEC record with a 99-yard touchdown reception, and was named first team All-SEC in his final year at South Carolina.
When Williamson arrived in Minnesota, the expectations he had to live under were more than he could deal with. He landed on the Vikings roster as Randy Moss was being dealt to Oakland. The team gave Williamson a tremendous vote of confidence by inserting him as Moss' replacement immediately.
Anyone with even the most casual knowledge about the history of the NFL is aware of how difficult it is for receivers to become productive members of a roster entering the league. Most rookie wide outs have a tendency to struggle, and these challenges are only exacerbated by the escalated hopes that come with being a first-round selection.
Williamson did not deliver, and the fans turned on him very quickly.
The blazing speed was never a question. Williamson could fly. But, no matter how open Williamson might have gotten because of his speed, the prospect of throwing the ball in his direction was usually accompanied by a collective cringe as people waited to see if he actually held on to the football.
On far too many occasions a wide open Williamson would finish a play trotting back to the huddle after muffing a catch.
When the Jaguars and Vikings reached an agreement on trading a late round pick for Williamson, Jacksonville felt it had gotten the better end of the deal. With his speed, Williamson would immediately offer the team a deep threat and a return specialist. That combination would be an absolute steal if he panned out.
Unfortunately, just when he was given the opportunity to turn his career around with a fresh start in Jacksonville, the injury happened.
The injury took away the one asset Williamson brought to the table that landed him on the Jaguars to begin with: his speed.
Without the speed, he was just another guy with suspect hands.
His slow recovery only made things worse.
As the team struggled through a disappointing season where the receiving corps was a leading contributor to the 5-11 record, Williamson was nowhere to be found.
When the roster purge began, Williamson had to be avoiding phone calls from the 904 area code. He must have felt his time in Jacksonville was coming to an end. But, the call never came.
Entering mini-camp and organized team activities, he was still on the roster.
He was now faced with many new faces. With only Mike Walker still wearing teal, Williamson has been forced to jump into an open competition with three rookie draft picks and two free agents for one of five or six roster spots.
The odds of Williamson making the team seem unlikely, unless of course he rediscovers his speed and, more importantly his hands.
It is situations like this where good players rise to the occasion, and disappointing players fade into the background.
Williamson is finally in a position where the pressure to live up to expectations is gone, and he can focus his energy on trying to make the roster.
No matter what happens with the Jaguars, his speed is going to be a real lure for some team. Speed always gets a lot of attention in the NFL. The hope is that he becomes the most productive sixth-round draft pick in franchise history, but at this point with the level of young competition he has to face, the more likely scenario is that he gets some quality video to take with him as he departs Jacksonville in search of a new team.
The time has come for Williamson to leverage his veteran experience, and his physical talents to win a roster spot. Nobody is expecting him to make noise or compete for a roster spot, so a nice run in training camp and the preseason could make him the comeback player for the Jaguars.
It all rests on those hands.
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