Leading up to training camp for the Dallas Cowboys, one possible camp battle that was anticipated by many was whether Brice Butler or perhaps another player would challenge Terrance Williams for the number two wide receiver job behind Dez Bryant. This was likely spurred by the disappointment many felt over Williams not really stepping up to fill Bryant’s shoes when the star receiver was injured to start the season. But so far in camp, Williams, who is in a contract year, has looked very solid.
It is a bit ironic that so many seem down on Williams, because he is one of the rare examples in recent years of a player Dallas drafted after the first round who has actually worked out. Selected with the extra third-round pick obtained in the trade-back that also led to the drafting of Travis Frederick, he has been a solid second receiver. Over his first three seasons, he has played in every game, caught 232 passes for 2,197 yards and 16 touchdowns, while averaging between 16 and 17 yards per catch every year. Those are very solid numbers for a number two receiver. The fact he was not able to be a more effective WR1 while Bryant was out does not negate his value. There is also an argument to be made that at least some of the struggles he had in trying to be the top target were caused by the quarterbacks he worked with. The failure that was the Great Debacle of 2015 is widely attributed to the failure of the Cowboys to properly address the backup QB situation. Additionally, with Bryant out, everyone knew that Williams was the main WR threat, and opposing teams worked at neutralizing him.
There has really been only one consistent criticism of Williams in his career, and that is his constant reliance on body-catching the ball. This has always seemed to be a matter of some bad instincts and habits he developed while at Baylor, or even earlier. He certainly demonstrated on many occasions that he could catch the ball with his hands, as in this celebrated play.
Cowboys vs Seattle Romo to Williams pic.twitter.com/44z0zqehPN— DARJCJRBI (@Marcus_Mims213) February 17, 2016
He seems to be making an effort to work on catching the ball properly in training camp this year.
Watch S Byron Jones come down in the box for a blitz before Terrance Williams catches a pass: pic.twitter.com/F1aDdhZ6cQ— Brandon George (@DMN_George) July 31, 2016
He is not always keeping the ball away from his body, and still will catch it against his body if it comes at him around his midsection, but he does seem to be snatching the ball with his hands more often than not.
More importantly, he has quietly been having a very solid camp. Butler and Lucky Whitehead have not been able to mount real challenges to his current position on the depth chart, and despite all the buzz about Andy Jones, he is really fighting those two rather than Williams to make his case to get on the roster.
Having the talk about Williams losing his WR2 job die down is actually good news. He has been a reliable receiver, and with the incentive of playing for a contract, he should have another good year, and may put his best season together. Tony Romo has shown a lot of faith in him, which is always a major factor in Dallas. Sorry, all of you who wanted to see someone else move him down the depth chart, but so far at least, all he has done in Oxnard is solidify his grip on his position.