It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Tourek Williams had rededicated his life during a transformative offseason gearing for a breakout year in 2015.
Instead, a broken foot suffered during the first preseason game cost him the entire season.
No one would blame Williams for feeling bitter or cursing his luck. However, the outside linebacker took a different approach.
"It was hard at first, but my second day after surgery, I talked with my mom and my dad, I just prayed about it and I haven't stressed about it since," he said. "That was in the middle of August. I was so pissed off at first because all my hard work, everything, it was gone so fast. I did all this work, and now I've just got to watch? So I gave myself a day or two I guess, I prayed about it, and I haven't stressed about it since."
Instead, Williams is attacking 2016 with a vengeance.
"I'm starting over again. I'm at the bottom of the depth chart, and I've got to earn my way up. I feel like the last man in everything right now, so I've just got to work my way back up again. And this time when I do it, I'm going to do it with a statement. My focus is times 10 what it was last year. I'm going over even the finest of details, and working on my technique. I've got big plans for myself, and I've already accomplished some of those things just by getting healthy again. So I'm on my way. I owe it to myself and my family to go out there and play at a high level."
Originally a sixth-round pick in 2013, Williams appeared in 13 games with six starts while recording 11 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble as a rookie. He notched 13 tackles on defense during his sophomore campaign, but 6-4, 262 pound linebacker made his biggest mark on special teams with 14 tackles.
Now, after having to watch from the sidelines all of 2015, he is hell-bent on making a mark in both phases in what he calls a make or break season.
"If I don't go out there and get it done this year, this could be it for me," he said matter-of-factly. "This is make or break. I either go out there and do something, and make myself a part of this organization, or my football career could be done. That is how I am approaching it. This team gave me an opportunity when they drafted me, and they are giving me a chance now coming off my injury. I'm looking to redeem myself. This is where I want to be, and I want to do what I can to make this team proud."
In order to make his mark, Williams is intent on earning his coaches' trust.
"I can tell you this; Head Coach (Mike) McCoy just wants to let me loose to go out there and play. (Linebackers) Coach (Bob) Babich doesn't really know me as a player, so I am trying to show him. And (Defensive Coordinator John) Pagano probably wants to know if he can trust me. If I can show him he can trust me, and I can get my shot, I think I can make an impact. I think I fit in with this group with Melvin (Ingram), Jerry (Attaochu) and Kyle (Emanuel). I'm a tough player, and that's something nobody can take away from me. Nobody can take away my toughness. So that will set me apart. My opportunity will come, so I've been putting in the work to take advantage when it does."