A familiar face walked around the locker room Monday morning and joined his fellow Chargers teammates as everyone cleaned out their lockers ahead of the offseason.
Wide receiver Mike Williams made an appearance and spoke to reporters for the first time since suffering a torn ACL during a Week 3 road win against the Vikings in late September.
Williams was in good spirits sitting at his locker as he detailed where he stands in his recovery process three months since suffering the injury.
"I'm feeling good," Williams said with a smile and a laugh.
"I'm slightly ahead. I'm in the right space," Williams later added. "Just taking it one day at a time, that's the main thing. It's a process, so just taking it one day at a time but I'm ahead of the process."
The veteran receiver clarified what "slightly ahead" meant, adding everything continues to be full steam ahead.
"It's just timelines and stuff we were trying to meet and I'm hitting those timelines ahead of schedule," Williams said. "So, everything is looking good."
When asked if he's been doing any running to this point, however, Williams gave a playful shrug.
"I don't know," Williams said with a chuckle. "Y'all going to see in a little bit I guess."
Williams' absence left a hole in the Chargers offense as the team missed his dynamic jump ball ability and downfield explosiveness.
Missing games was also tough mentally for the receiver, who watched the Bolts play and wanted nothing more than to be out there with his teammates to try and help them win some games.
"It was hard for me," Williams said about being out. "Just watching every game and wanting to be out there to help the guys get a 'W'.
"That was the main thing, just me being the player that I am, I want to be out there to help the guys win and I wasn't able to do that," Williams added. "So yeah, my main focus is just to get back 100 percent."
Williams said he was able to find early success in Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore's new offense.
Known for his prowess on the outside, Williams was moving around in Moore's scheme more than he had before, lining up 47 times in the slot in the first three games — more than half as much as he had in 13 games during the 2022 season, according to Pro Football Focus.
He racked up 19 catches for 249 yards up to the point he got injured, the second-best numbers of his seven-year career during the first three weeks of the season. Williams also caught a touchdown pass from Keenan Allen in the game where he suffered the injury.
The Chargers pass offense was moving, especially that afternoon against Minnesota, and Williams feels like it was on pace to be one of the best in the league.
"Kellen, I feel like he brought a great offense," Williams said. "[It's] something I wanted to be a part of. We were about to get things rolling and then injury happened, and I had to watch from the sideline.
"But yeah, it was an offense I wanted to be a part of," Williams added. "Felt like I could've put some numbers up, help the offense be one of the top offensives in the league, but obviously the situation happened, so yeah."
Seeing the wide receiver group struggle with injury for the second straight season added to the former first-round pick's frustration, but his focus has shifted to coming back stronger.
"Keenan missed some time last year, me coming out third game tearing my ACL. Just back-to-back years we had injuries in the group," Williams said. "So yeah, we just got to regroup, focus this offseason getting healthy and be ready."
As with any offseason, there will be turnover on the Bolts roster. And with a new head coach and general manager for the Chargers in 2024, the team could possibly see more change than normal.
But that is something that Williams says is out of his control and not something he's focused on, as the receiver's mind is on returning to a better form than he was pre-injury heading into next season.
"A lot of stuff we can't control for real," Williams said. "That's not really [something] I can control, who we bring in, who's going to be the GM, head coach and the guys he wants to be a part of this team.
"I know what I'm capable of doing," Williams continued. "I know I'm going to come back stronger, faster and better after this injury, so I just got to focus on what I can focus on and that's me getting back better."
Williams later added: "I feel like the next people that come in here will do a good job also, so excited to see who it's going to be."
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