Williams Adjusting Well To Backup Role

Veteran RB Ricky Williams scored his first touchdown as a Raven on Sunday.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 11:19 am | Categories: Ryan Mink, Week 7 at Jaguars

Ricky Williams didn’t get his first carry of Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans until more than midway through the fourth quarter.

Two-and-a-half minutes later, he was in the end zone for his first touchdown as a Raven.

Williams is on pace for a career-low in carries, but the former Pro Bowler and fifth overall pick is making the most of his limited opportunities.

“It’s an adjustment, but I think it makes me a better player,” Williams, 34, said.

“When I got in towards the fourth quarter, I hadn’t touched the ball at all, but I just tried to keep my head in the game, and it all worked out.”

Williams didn’t start a single game in Miami last year. Ronnie Brown started all 16. But Williams had a much larger share of the load, notching 159 carries to Brown’s 200.

Despite his changed role, Williams is averaging more yards than he did a year ago. His 4.7 yards per carry this season are just 0.2 fewer than starter Ray Rice.

Williams, who the Ravens signed to a reported two-year deal this offseason, last averaged 4.7 yards per carry in 2009. It’s his best mark since 2002, when he averaged 4.8 yards and ran for 1,853 yards as Miami’s full-time back.

Williams has delivered the big play this year. He’s had rushes of 26 and 28 yards already.

He has also been a factor in pass protection. On Joe Flacco’s 56-yard bomb to Anquan Boldin, Williams went low to block hard-charging defensive end Antonio Smith, slowing the Texan up just enough to give his quarterback time to get the pass away.

“He has been a big part. He has had some big runs for us,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “You see the run game, but one of the things you don’t see is the pass protection part of it.”

One problem Williams has so far this season is fumbles. He lost one against Tennessee in Week 2 and another versus the New York Jets in Week 4.

Perhaps nobody was happier for Williams after he scampered four yards for a touchdown against Houston than Rice, who said he could have stayed in the game for the goal-line carry, but also wanted Williams to taste the end zone.

“The greatest feeling for me today was to see Ricky Williams get a touchdown,” Rice said. “I learned so much from Ricky. … That guy is here for a reason, and I wanted to see him get his motor going. We know what the running is going to do later in the year, and we are going to need Ricky Williams.”

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