At this time last year in Costa Mesa, Mike Williams was a training camp spectator.
An offseason back injury derailed the start of his rookie campaign, causing him to play catch up during the thick of the 2017 regular season. Now fully healthy, the second-year wide receiver participated in his first NFL training camp practice Saturday at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.
"I'm gaining a lot of confidence coming out here practicing," Williams said. "I wasn't able to practice until like Week 5 (last year). So, I mean just coming out here (in) training camp, I've got a whole few weeks to get right -- get right with the quarterbacks and get the timing on."
Williams, an All-American from Clemson, was drafted No. 7 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. He caught 11 passes for 95 yards in 10 games last season. His NFL debut did not come until Week 6 in Oakland.
At quarterback Philip Rivers' end-of-year press conference, he stressed the importance for Williams to have an entire offseason of work. He did, and his quarterback wants to continue to see that positive trajectory during camp.
"I know Mike has high expectations of himself," Rivers said. "In his mind, he wants to come out and prove himself. We've all seen flashes. We believe in Mike and know what he can do. He's going to have to, again, be patient with himself and keep stacking days."
Rivers said the 6-4, 220-pound Williams made a few plays Saturday that showed what he's capable of adding to the NFL's top passing attack from last season. Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen also took notice of No. 81.
"I thought he did a great job today," Allen said. "(He) had a couple great things in 1-on-1s, (a) couple good routes in teams. He just has to pick up on the speed of the game. It's going to come with time and he'll be great."
Williams said it was a typical first day in that it's an opportunity to get on tape and evaluate how to get better. This first week, he'll work to improve on getting in and out of his releases faster.
It wasn't just a typical day, though. Saturday was the start of what Williams is expecting to be a productive and healthy 2018.
"… I'm just trying to be here for my teammates every game," he said.
Chargers Training Camp has kicked off! Click here for information on attending one of the several open practices between July 28 and August 23. To celebrate football being back, we're giving away two 2018 season tickets! Click here to enter for your chance to win.