Mike Williams made his highly anticipated debut on Sunday in Oakland.
While he was on a pitch count, seeing only a handful of snaps throughout the day, he made his presence felt with a key third down conversion in the fourth quarter. The first-round pick caught a 15-yard in route on his lone target, moving the chains on 3rd-and-6 to the Raiders' 19.
"I just had a little dig route," Williams said, describing what went through his mind on the play. "Just had to get my depth. I felt like the route was going to be there because they were playing a lot of cover-2. So I just had to find my depth, get past the chains, and get the catch."
A first catch is always a memorable moment for a player.
However, outside of perhaps finding the end zone, Williams couldn't have asked for anything more from his first NFL reception. After all, what's better than a clutch catch on the road against the Raiders in the Black hole to set up a touchdown?
In recent weeks, the Bolts have said Williams looked impressive while practicing on a limited basis. While it was only one catch, his teammates saw the player they expected under the bright lights.
"He came through when we needed him," said Melvin Gordon. "With a big catch, he made one that helped move us into a position to win. That is what it is all about. I think once he gets fully comfortable out there, once he gets in stride, he is just so big out there and can be a great possession receiver."
"Major," Keenan Allen said. "Third down catch. He needed it. We needed it. So that's confidence on both sides and it kept the drive going, too, so it was great."
Equally important, it was a confidence building play for the young wideout and his veteran quarterback who are still building chemistry.
"I haven't thrown him many balls, but it was a handful of those during this week at practice," Philip Rivers said. "It was just good. It was good that he felt the hold. I kind tried to talk through the throw. He was wide open on that one. It was good. He was, as to be expected with both where he played in college and the big games he played in. He wasn't real wide-eyed in there. He looked comfortable to me."
While his overall play may not have popped out to those watching on TV, it did make an impression on number 17.
"All week we've been trying to sprinkle him in there and everyone was quiet all week on how much we thought he was going to play," Rivers explained. "We wanted to sprinkle him in some and let him ease his way in. He knew that if he got his own coverage he was going to have a chance to be the primary guy on the in-route, and he did a nice job. He had a couple other nice in-routes and other things he was in there on. It was exciting his first catch, getting action in division game on the road. His first game. I know he's been in huge crowds his whole career in National Championship games (at Clemson), and I think that was good for him. Now we'll continue to mix him in and keep Travis (Benjamin) and Tyrell (Williams) fresh, keep them all fresh and mix him in there. It'll be good for him."
As for the rookie himself, Williams said it felt natural to be back on the field. Still, that doesn't mean he didn't have butterflies.
"I was a little nervous," he admitted. "I mean, I tend to get nerves before every game, but just going out there, getting in the rhythm of the game, I felt good. Just going out for the first time and blocking, it felt good."