It’s been a long road for Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams. He’s made mistakes off the field that he’s trying to get past, and he’s trying to make up for those mistakes by pushing himself as an undrafted free agent. Now, as Miami’s first preseason game draws ever closer, Williams is starting to impress the fans, his coaches, and even his teammates.
“That guy can be special.” said Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard. “He’s still learning, he’s just a rookie. (There) is so much room for improvement with him but he’s going to be a number one receiver one day.”
Considering Howard’s ever-increasing reputation, that’s extremely high praise. Howard’s job is locking down other teams’ best wide receivers, and in training camp, Howard gives that same treatment to Williams. Howard wins a lot of those matches. But there are moments where Williams makes an impressive play to beat the elite cornerback. That’s a difficult task no matter who it is, as everyone knows.
Back in late May, Ryan Fitzpatrick was asked about the tall, strong receiver, and apparently the praise wasn’t quite as pronounced.
“He’ll make some ‘wow’ plays and he’ll make some plays that remind you that he’s a young guy.” He said. “Consistency is going to be a big thing with him. In terms of some of the physical features and the way that he can go get the ball and those type of things, he’s been very impressive. Again, he’s working his tail off and it shows and you can tell out here, but there’s also a lot of work that still needs to be put in for him to be able to be trusted and be out there.”
But since then, trust has been attained, especially from young QB Josh Rosen. The two are building an impressive rapport, one that just might help Rosen win the starting job.
“Yeah, he’s got a ton of potential.” Rosen said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “He’s an unbelievable athlete. He’s got a great attitude. He works really hard, and I think he’s got a really high ceiling. It’s just about how hard he works, and I’m right there in the boat with him. We’re the same age, so hopefully we can develop together and keep pushing each other.”
To further boost their chances, Rosen and Williams actually have a history together. The two were on the same team at The Opening camp in Oregon in 2014 as recruits in high school. During that time, they made quite a tandem.
“I don’t know how much chemistry after – how long is that, five, six years ago?” Rosen said. “But yeah, it’s good to see him. That’s kind of the crazy thing about the NFL is that you walk in and you see faces that you haven’t seen in years from all over.”
Now, with an old friend throwing him the ball as he fights his way back to his NFL dream, does Preston Williams still have a chip on his shoulder from going undrafted? The answer, apparently, is no.
“That’s over, so I don’t really think about it any more.” Williams said. “I’m here now. I’ve got my foot in the door. I just came in to work. It doesn’t matter where I’m at or where I went.”
True enough, since where he is, is at the forefront of a brewing competition. As a result, he’s in the thick of it with DeVante Parker and Brice Butler for a spot on the final roster. If things stay this close between them, then preseason will have to make the final decision. In the end, Preston Williams isn’t taking anything for granted.
“It’s real humbling because a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to sit in these chairs.” He said. “So I just come out here every day like it’s my last practice.”