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Better Than Good: Mike Williams' Return Brings Big-Play Ability to Bolts Offense

Mike Williams Cover

It didn't take long for people to remember who Mike Williams is.

On a third-and-9 on the Chargers first offensive drive in Week 14, quarterback Justin Herbert dropped back to pass and surveyed the field before he threw it up to Williams down the right sideline.

The coverage was good. But Williams was better, coming down with a 23-yard catch that moved the chains and sent a roar through SoFi Stadium.

Once again, Williams had proven that sometimes good coverage is not good enough when he's battling for the ball in the air.

"For me, I just try to make a play. That's the main thing," Williams said about making contested catches. "Just take advantage of every opportunity that I get with balls down the field. Obviously, big plays can help the momentum of the team and the offense shorten the field.

"My main thing is just, if the ball is in the air and the quarterback gives me an opportunity, just take advantage of it," Williams added. "I've been able to do that so far, so I just have to continue to just be about that."

Williams finished his return to action catching all six of his targets for 116 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown. Week 14 marked his first his first full game since he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 7 against the Seahawks.

"I felt good," Williams said about his return. "At the end of the day, I just wanted to be comfortable out there, play a full, complete game and I felt comfortable.

"I felt good, body was solid," Williams added. "My main thing was just being available for my team, make plays and be an option to help us win a football game."

Since suffering the high-ankle sprain on Oct. 23, his return has been to the field has seen its ups and downs.

Williams gave it a go in Week 11 against the Chiefs, but only played six snaps before re-aggravating his injury. Restarting his rehab was frustrating, but he knew that at the end of the day it would require him to be patient with the process and keep a level head.  

"It was frustrating for sure," Williams said about his injury. "Obviously, I had an injury that takes a little time to heal. I was feeling good when I came back, but it was frustrating when I re-tweaked it, had to go through the whole process again.

"Take a couple of weeks off, just getting the swelling and everything out, get the mobility back in it," Williams added. "Other than that, I was pretty good. Level-headed, just focused on rehab and getting back on the field."

Williams' absence was another chapter in what's been a trying Chargers season injury-wise. And still, the Chargers remain in the thick of the AFC playoff race with four games to go.

That's due in part to the mindset and depth of the team, as the Bolts have continuously had players step up in the absence of others.

Regardless of who is out there, the team is trying to control what's in their power — and it's led them to a 7-6 record and being in contention down the stretch.

"Well for us, everybody just has to control everything that you can control and do your part," Williams said. "That's the main thing. Obviously, we got a lot of guys banged up and hopefully we can continue to get guys back as we go along, but the guys who are out there have to continue to step up and do your 1 percent.

"If everybody just does their 1 percent, we can live with the results," Williams added.

And the result this past Sunday in Williams' return was a big win over a potential AFC playoff team.

Aside from another 100-yard game from Williams, the Bolts also got their big-play threat back in the lineup.

His 55-yard reception in the third quarter was the offense's longest reception of the season to date and kept up a recent trend of lengthy plays from No. 81. Since 2018, Williams ranks third in the NFL with 23 receptions of 40-plus yards.

Williams, who has 44 catches for 626 yards and four touchdowns, simply opens up the field for everyone else. His return translated the Chargers most passing yards in a game this season.

Williams said he's excited to team up with fellow wide receivers Keenan Allen and Joshua Palmer down the stretch.

"Oh, it's going to be big," Williams said. "Obviously, me and Keenan haven't been on the field as much together this year, but we played our full game last week and we both had pretty good games.

"We just played off of each other — everybody in the group — and adding me back to the group just adds another offensive threat. More options on the field," Williams added.

Sunday's game against the Titans will be another test for the Chargers as the final month of the season begins.

The team is looking for their first playoff berth since 2018, which was Williams' first and only playoff appearance.

While he is confident the team can make a run, his focus these days is on staying healthy and staying in the moment.

"It's going to be crazy," Williams said. "I feel like we have a pretty good team to get the job done. We just looking forward to this game coming up. We can't look too far ahead. Just focus on the next game."

"I feel like that's our goal every year, to make the playoffs," Williams later added. "We fell short a few years, but this year we got an opportunity to get back to the playoffs. That's what we're trying to do."

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