By now everyone knows Mike Williams took a massive step forward between his first and second years in the NFL.
After all, the wide receiver hauled in 43 passes for 664 yards (15.4 yards per catch) and 10 touchdowns while also carrying the rock seven times for 28 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and another TD. In the process, he became the first Chargers wideout since Tony Martin way back in 1996 to have 10 scrimmage touchdowns in a single season. Those 11 total TDs were also the fourth most among any wideout in the league.
If that wasn’t enough, a whopping 83.7-percent of his catches went for a first down, which was the best mark in the NFL.
So, it’s fair to ask, what does Mike Williams have in store for 2019?
Well, speaking with reporters on the last day of minicamp, Williams made it clear that he’s set to have an expanded role in year three.
“Well, this is my third year going into the offense,” he explained. “I’m a lot more confident coming out here and playing. My role is going to expand with Tyrell (Williams) leaving (to the Raiders). I’m looking forward to that. I’m ready to make some plays this upcoming season.”
So, what exactly does an “expanded” role mean?
Basically, more balls thrown his way as well as increased ways the Bolts will use him.
It’s safe to say Williams is revved up for the opportunity, though he won’t go into detail just yet.
“We lost a big weapon in Tyrell (so) a lot of people in the room have to step up,” he said. “I feel like me being the player that I am, I feel like I can do that… I feel like the role is going to change. I feel I’m going to get a lot more opportunities than I did last year. A lot more balls coming my way. I’m looking forward to it.”
At the same time, the former Clemson star insists his preparations won’t change one bit. That’s because the 6-4, 220-pound wideout’s work ethic and desire to improve has long been considered beyond reproach.
“Just stick to the same plan that I was doing,” he said. “The same process. You have to trust the process… I always will be working on (route running). As a receiver, that’s just something you work on every day. I’ve been working on that since day one. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.”
In addition, an increased role means teams will change the way they defend the big-play weapon. Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt specifically mentioned the inherent challenges that now come with his established success and additional responsibilities.
“It was obviously great to see Mike do what he did, but now the challenge for Mike, quite frankly, is now to build off that,” Whisenhunt explained. “Now he has a target on his back because teams will try to stop him.”
However, while acknowledging he expects changes in coverage, Williams brushed aside any concerns. He explained how he’s always been someone defenses must game-plan against, dating back to his dominant collegiate career at Clemson.
“I can deal with any type of coverage — man-to-man, cover-3, cover-2,” he said matter-of-factly. “It doesn’t really matter, you just have to control what you can control.”
At the same time, while Williams will be a bigger target this season, the bevy of weapons the Bolts boast on offense makes it hard for defenses to zero-in on any specific player. Keenan Allen automatically comes to mind, as well as prolific pass-catching backs out of the backfield like Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.
However, Williams explained how Hunter Henry’s return and Travis Benjamin’s increased health figures to open things up even more for one of the league’s highest-powered offenses.
“(After) not having Hunter out there (last season), next year it’s going to open up everything,” Williams noted. “I think it’s going to open the offense a lot more. Having Travis’ speed out there, Hunter’s size and being able to make plays in the red zone will also help. Having those two types of players on the team is going to help this offense a lot.”