Nick Williams has spent the majority of his seven-year NFL career scrapping for a roster spot. Taken in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Williams has never been afforded a guaranteed roster spot, and he knows how critical the preseason is for players that are living on the roster bubble.
“I’ve been around,” Williams said on a Zoom call Wednesday. “I’ve seen every face of the NFL. I’ve been cut, I’ve been out. So I know how important that fourth preseason game is to some guys, because I’ve been in their shoes.”
That fourth preseason game, however, could be on the chopping block this year. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, both the NFL and the NFL Players Association are in talks about shortening the preseason game to just two games in order to give players a gradual chance to ramp up to game-ready speed. Players have lost out on the opportunity to do so earlier in the offseason after the loss of OTAs and minicamp due to the coronavirus.
But Williams knows this could come as a sacrifice to players who need those extra game situations to prove they belong on an NFL roster, even if it’s not the one they’re currently on.
“However many games guys need—like the guys that are really fighting to make the roster—they should get that opportunity to make somebody else’s roster, because I’ve done that before,” Williams said.
Williams, 30, said he doesn’t need the full four scrimmages at this point in his career. He’s been around the block long enough to have the experience to be ready by Week 1, and given Detroit’s current roster, his spot on the team feels relatively safe. Still, he empathizes with the players that could suffer if the NFL decides to go forward with the shortened preseason.
“I know how important that fourth preseason game is for guys, and I want them to go out and have a fair opportunity to make somebody’s club.”