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SoCalBronco
12-07-2009, 11:19 PM
Low-Key, High Impact
Reliable Williams avoids spotlight, but he’s a shining star for Broncos

By Brian Howell
© 2009 Longmont Times-Call

D.J. Williams isn’t one of the more recognizable players in the NFL. In fact, he’s not even one of the more recognizable players in Denver.


The Broncos’ starting inside linebacker doesn’t show his face much on TV commercials. He’s not a guy who’s quoted often in the media.


It’s all by design.


While some athletes crave the spotlight, Williams dodges it. He’s well aware of when the media are allowed in the Broncos’ locker room, and thus, he’s well aware of when to avoid the locker room.


“As a professional athlete, your private life is under a microscope already,” he said. “Why would you want more eyes on you, more people looking at you? When I have my free time, I just want to be free.”


On the field, Williams is one of the better linebackers in the NFL. Since Denver selected him 17th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, he has started nearly every game of his career — and, in 2007, he finished second in the NFL in tackles. This season, his 79 tackles lead the Broncos.


For whatever reason, however, Williams’ name rarely comes up in conversation about the league’s elite linebackers, and he has yet to make a Pro Bowl.


“You’ve got a lot of great players, and somebody is going to get overlooked,” Broncos linebacker Mario Haggan said. “Unfortunately, he’s been one.”


If the lack of recognition bothers Williams, he doesn’t admit it.


“The one year that I was the second-leading tackler, I thought I’d be close, but it didn’t happen,” he said. “Last year, I got off to a great start through the first eight weeks, and then ended up getting injured. I don’t feel that my career will be defined by making the Pro Bowl.”


So far, the career of the six-year veteran has been defined by being a remarkably reliable and positive leader for the Broncos.


“When I came in, he actually took on being one of my mentors,” said Wesley Woodyard, a second-year linebacker for the Broncos. “We’ve got like a brother relationship. He kind of just took me in as soon as I got here. He’s always been like family to me since Day 1.


“He makes plays that most linebackers can’t make. Every time he’s out there, he does something spectacular on the field, so it’s always good to learn from somebody like him.”


Woodyard would do well to learn from Williams, who has played just about every linebacker position on the field. This is the fifth consecutive season in which the Broncos have shifted his position. That has probably contributed to him not making a Pro Bowl, since he’s never been able to settle into a position, and he called all of the shifting “frustrating.”


Yet it is Williams’ willingness to shift positions that has helped make him so valuable.


“The simple fact that I’m still here in Denver and I’m the guy that’s moving around and changing positions lets you know that I’m versatile and I can do multiple things,” said Williams, who is signed through 2013.


Williams is versatile off the field, too. There is more to him than first meets the eye — and he credits his childhood for that. He grew up in Sacramento, Calif., in a single-parent home, where his mother, Sherri Gonzalez, made sure Williams’ childhood was a good one.


“Mom did what she could, but we never really wanted for much,” Williams. “She always made sure I was happy. That was one thing, that my mom made sure I would have an actual childhood and wouldn’t have to do too many things and take on grown-up responsibilities.”


Growing up in California gave Williams a unique perspective on life, he said.


“California is a diverse state,” he said. “You see so much and you hear so much. There’s not too many things you haven’t seen or done when you grow up in California.”


He has since taken his comfort with diversity to a new level. Being an NFL player has allowed Williams to enjoy his passion of traveling ,and he’s been all around the world — from Europe to South America, the Caribbean and West Indies.


“I mix it up a little bit,” he said. “I just like going different places and learning about their culture, tasting the food and seeing how they live.”


In true Williams style, he doesn’t do anything to draw attention to himself when he travels.


“When I go, I don’t do the whole extravagant, fly first-class, private jet,” he said. “I kind of just go. I usually go with Jonathan Vilma from the (New Orleans) Saints. We go and we don’t have a game plan. We meet people there, start talking and find out places to go.”


Where to next? Only time will tell, but until the next offseason, he’ll spend his time making a load of tackles and dodging the spotlight. He’ll also continue to prove that he doesn’t have to be in the spotlight to make an impression.


“A lot of people think he’s a quiet guy, actually, but once you get to know him and sit down and talk to him, he’s probably one of the best guys I’ve had a chance to meet in my life,” Woodyard said. “He’s just one of those guys that always makes people happy.”


Brian Howell can be reached at
bhowell@times-call.com.


http://www.timescall.com/sports_story.asp?id=19463

BroncoDoug
12-07-2009, 11:24 PM
your boy has quietly had a good season, which means they will probably switch his position next year... has he played saftey yet?

DBroncos4life
12-07-2009, 11:31 PM
I see this thread ending well Ha!

SJ Bronco
12-07-2009, 11:42 PM
DJ Williams, one of the bay area natives we admit to (went to HS at the Nationally ranked De La Salle) We reject Tom Brady...you can have him...

Taco John
12-08-2009, 12:13 AM
I really like DJ. I think he's gotten a bad rap due to all of the moving they did with him early in his career, but he's managed to take that adversity and really carve out a spot on this team. He's an inspiration for anybody asked to do something at work that they aren't necessarily equipped to do, but manages to get the job done and then some.

Go DJ!

watermock
12-08-2009, 12:31 AM
I can only imagine his frustration now that we've gone 3-4.

Good soldier.

BTW, anyone see Dansby last nite? Guy's a freak.

cmhargrove
12-08-2009, 06:19 AM
I thought DJ was a little lost at the beginning of the season and I was worried he wasn't going to fill his role too well this year.

However, I think DJ is playing really good ball right now. Maybe his best year as an all around contributor. Dj is making his tackles near the LOS, getting QB pressure, and defending the pass well downfield.

More plays, less celebrating. He's having a great year.

oubronco
12-08-2009, 06:22 AM
DJ has excelled in every position he has been asked to play he's a very solid player I like him

misturanderson
12-08-2009, 06:26 AM
I thought DJ was a little lost at the beginning of the season and I was worried he wasn't going to fill his role too well this year.

However, I think DJ is playing really good ball right now. Maybe his best year as an all around contributor. Dj is making his tackles near the LOS, getting QB pressure, and defending the pass well downfield.

More plays, less celebrating. He's having a great year.

This is exactly what I was seeing. He has really stepped it up the last 2 games.

It seemed like every time I focused on him specifically on Sunday he made a great play if he was anywhere near where the play went.

fontaine
12-08-2009, 06:46 AM
In my opinion and what I've seen Andre Davis has been better against the run than Williams. Although, obviously DJ is the far more valueable talent as he's very good in coverage as well, which Davis isn't.

Almost every week, without fail not only do you see Davis cleaning up against the run, but a few times a game he jacknifes into the backfield to make negative plays against the run and disrupt the inside running game.

Just to back that up with stats. Davis is a two down player while DJ is an every down defender. Yet Davis has almost as many tackles as DJ. That should tell you what kind of impact he makes against the run.

No wonder Cleveland are going down the toilet when they let a solid, experienced player like him walk.

HEAV
12-08-2009, 12:17 PM
I like DJ... but he still has lots to learn about playing inside backer. At times he mis-reads teh blocking and takes himself outta plays. Love the fire he plays with and he has talent. Just need to learn the inside 3-4 backer position.

gyldenlove
12-08-2009, 12:30 PM
In my opinion and what I've seen Andre Davis has been better against the run than Williams. Although, obviously DJ is the far more valueable talent as he's very good in coverage as well, which Davis isn't.

Almost every week, without fail not only do you see Davis cleaning up against the run, but a few times a game he jacknifes into the backfield to make negative plays against the run and disrupt the inside running game.

Just to back that up with stats. Davis is a two down player while DJ is an every down defender. Yet Davis has almost as many tackles as DJ. That should tell you what kind of impact he makes against the run.

No wonder Cleveland are going down the toilet when they let a solid, experienced player like him walk.

That also has to do with responsibilities, Davis is very much a player who is asked to play close to the line and attack the line on many plays while DJ Williams is the only base formation linebacker often tasked with playing man coverage. The only other LB who plays a lot of coverage is Wesley Woodyard who plays in the nickel package.

The one thing I am happy to see this year is that DJ has been getting some pressure in passing situations when asked to blitz or spy.

DJ is a guy who needs to be put in situations where his speed and agility can be utilized, he biggest strength is definitely flowing to the ball carrier and making plays away from the line.

Kaylore
12-08-2009, 12:42 PM
My wife and I ran into DJ, Woodyard and Davis all at Mimi's cafe near Park Meadows mall a week and a half ago. They were seated right next to us. I didn't want to disturb them so as we left I just quietly said to their table "Go defense, Go Broncos." They gave me a big smile and a nod...and then they proceeded to beat the piss out of the Giants the next day. I think it's safe to say I'm the reason for the big turnaround. :approve:

vancejohnson82
12-08-2009, 12:51 PM
My wife and I ran into DJ, Woodyard and Davis all at Mimi's cafe near Park Meadows mall a week and a half ago. They were seated right next to us. I didn't want to disturb them so as we left I just quietly said to their table "Go defense, Go Broncos." They gave me a big smile and a nod...and then they proceeded to beat the piss out of the Giants the next day. I think it's safe to say I'm the reason for the big turnaround. :approve:

thats one of the hardest things to do....i was standing in line behind Brandon Jacobs a few weeks ago at a Nets game by the will call window....i withheld the temptation to say anything for about a good 15 minutes....then I said, "Good luck this week...but don't overlook the Broncos on Thanksgiving"

He said, "Not a chance we do that bro"....

i think i siked him out

Bronco Yoda
12-08-2009, 12:54 PM
I appreciate D.J's versatility. He's been a good soldier in doing whatever he's been asked to do. You can't ask for more than that IMO.