After being without an NFL team for more than eight months, D.J. Williams is with the Washington Redskins and ready to provide a veteran presence for a young tight ends group.
D.J. Williams path back to the NFL is one almost no one has ever taken, but he's glad to be given another chance with the Redskins.
The Washington Redskins on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, announced the signing of veteran tight end D.J. Williams.
The four-year veteran, who was most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had been without a team since December, so to stay busy he joined the KARK Morning Team in Little Rock, Ark.
But he didn't give up on football while presenting the news in each morning.
"My days started at 3 a.m., and after work I'd go to the local athletic club and work out," he said. "They had hills outside and I'd run them because I had to make work with what I had. I did stay ready."
Were some days better than other?
Sure, but he stayed confident that he'd get his chance once again.
"Everybody would come up and ask me why I worked out the way I did, and I would say a phone call is coming," Williams said. "So hopefully I don't have too much dust on the wheels or the game, but the first two days have been good. I just need to get back in my rhythm."
Along with the Buccaneers, Williams has also played for the Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots.
He has 35 regular season appearances with nine receptions for 70 yards.
When Williams signed with the Redskins, the team's other four tight ends at the time had never experienced regular season action.
So with an extra spot to fill on the roster, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden wanted a player with some experience.
"Obviously, he's spent some time with some organizations that are running similar-type offenses that we do with terminology," Gruden said. "I think his transition will be a little bit smoother."
And even though he's the oldest player in the group of active tight ends, Williams is in "learning mode," heeding advice from his teammates who have been here much longer than he has.
"I need to kind of start taking care of my stuff first before I can try to help and give pointers to everyone else," Williams said. "But the young guys have been great. They know the offense well and you can tell they have that look in their eye. Coach [Wes] Phillips is really smart and he seems like he communicates with the guys well. That is very important when you have young guys on the team.
After partaking in his first couple weeks with the Redskins, the 6-foot-2, 245 pounder said he didn't realize how much football meant to him until he stepped onto the field once again.
"You tend to take things for granted until they're gone and I was in that situation," Williams said. "Even just being in the locker room or being at practice. Or even if we condition one day, I'll be happy to do it because the things I used to hate were the things I missed the most when I was gone. I just need to keep my excitement to a cool level during game day."