Commentary

Roy Williams won't revel in his revival

The Cowboys' enigmatic WR is finally producing, but his future in Dallas remains murky

Updated: October 22, 2010, 10:23 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING -- Roy Williams is having a solid start to the 2010 season.

He doesn't have the numbers of Miles Austin, who leads the team in catches and yards. He's not as exciting as Dez Bryant, who's scored on a punt return and a 31-yard reception, and seems to have the best hands on the team.

But one thing Williams does have is the touchdowns.

[+] EnlargeRoy Williams
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesRoy Williams leads all Cowboys receivers with five touchdown receptions.

Of the 10 receiving touchdowns on the Cowboys this season, Williams has five. He's enjoying a career renaissance this year, but why has it taken him two seasons to do so?

Williams finally bought in to what the Cowboys are teaching.

"He's playing at a high level," receivers coach Ray Sherman said. "He's bought in to what we expect of him. He really stays steady and focused and playing very well. The technique things, he was accustomed to doing certain things at Detroit and so he's bought into it here."

Williams was used to the ways of the Detroit Lions and how Mike Martz's offensive system fed him the ball regardless if he got it or not. He was the No. 1 receiver in Detroit, in Dallas he waits his turn.

He has accepted the fact that Austin will get his touches, especially in the slot when he has a chance to beat defenders one-on-one. Bryant is going to get his touches and has the ability to play physically against corners and some safeties.

Remember Jason Witten? He's the tight end that collects his catches across the middle and becomes an outlet for quarterback Tony Romo when necessary.

Williams bides his time and is more accepting he won't get all the touches. In fact, Williams even changed some of his techniques.

He comes out of breaks lower to offset defenders from controlling him at the end of his routes. Williams uses his arm strength more to push off corners who try to jam him off the line of scrimmage. Now he's a receiver who creates separation ... and while he isn't the fastest guy in the world, he's quick enough to become a threat.

All these good things were probably unheard of coming into the 2010 season after the Cowboys selected Bryant in the first round of the draft. Bryant, while talented, is still learning the offense and is battling a right high-ankle sprain that limits his abilities in practice.

Bryant was expected to become the starter, but currently Williams is nowhere close to losing his gig. In training camp, Williams said it would take a "bad man" to replace him.

He's still waiting.

"That's fair to say," he said. "And I stick by that."

It's probably the way it should be seeing how Williams entered this season more determined to silence the critics who thought, from a physical standpoint, he was washed up.

He worked harder in the offseason with strength and conditioning coach Joe Juraszek to find those abs and become more explosive.

Now, quarterback Tony Romo isn't afraid to throw passes to him downfield or on those crossing routes he loves to put in Austin's hands.

Despite all this success, it doesn't make Williams happy or make him remember his Pro Bowl year of 2006 with the Lions.

"The record, that's important to me," he said. "I've had other fast starts before, so this is nothing new. But like I said, the won-loss record is important."

Williams might never live up to that five-year $45 million contract extension he signed in 2008, but what he can do is possibly make his last days with the Cowboys more comfortable. It's almost as though Williams is auditioning for other teams.

The future for Williams is in doubt with these 1-4 Cowboys. While some might think Bryant will eventually take over the starting job from Williams, at this stage it's hard to envision that.

But while he won't say that, he also understands this is a business and at some point the Cowboys will go with the first-round pick.

"Yeah, by no means would I want to play anywhere else," Williams said. "I would love to retire here."

Do you think that might happen?

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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