Broncos linebacker Williams still tackling change

For weeks the changes came rolling out of the Broncos' Dove Valley complex, like midsize sedans off the assembly line.

New coach, new staff, new defense, new wants and new needs.

Change is the watchword of the Broncos this season, and few players have dealt with as much change on the field as linebacker D.J. Williams.

"I've had some," Williams said. "I guess be ready for anything is how I go about it, because anything could happen. I kind of expect them to come to me after every season and say they're going to try something different."

Williams is playing for his fourth defensive coordinator in his six NFL seasons, and playing in his fourth spot at linebacker. So when the team fired coach Mike Shanahan and started rebuilding the defense, Williams was ready to make a switch again. But early word on what a 3-4 defense might mean to him wasn't all that good.

"A lot of guys I knew came to me and said, 'You're going to hate going to the 3-4, hate it, especially coming from a 4-3,' " Williams recalled. " 'You're going to hate how you do things and all that.' But that's not the case at all.

"People can see already: It lets you do a lot of different things. There's a lot of stuff going on, and we could see that right away in the offseason. Basically I'm not sure what they were talking about hating it, because you can't hate it.
It's going to work."

Williams was credited with 10 tackles Sunday in the Broncos' 12-7 victory at Cincinnati, just behind safety Brian Dawkins' 11 for the team lead. Williams now plays at one of the inside linebacker positions in the Denver defense, lining up away from the offense's tight end.

In the Broncos' former defensive playbook, Williams never really found a home, having been moved from the weak side (away from the tight end) to the strong side (across from the tight end) to the middle and back to the weak side.
With each move, it was often said the new position just might be the best one for Williams, who had two 100-tackle seasons on the weak side to go with one 100-tackle year in the middle.

"When we looked at him and watched him, we could kind of see where he fit," Broncos defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "I think he fits best where we've got him right now and it's fortunate it's worked out that way.

"He's an inside linebacker more than an outside guy. I'll say this, he's a good football player. Since we've been here he's done everything we've asked and more."

Williams said one of the things he likes about the new playbook is that everyone has a chance to make a play. Sunday, three linebackers — Andra Davis, Darrell Reid and Mario Haggan — had the team's three sacks, and another linebacker, Wesley Woodyard, had one of the interceptions.

"Everybody is going to get their turn," Williams said. "Andra had a sack, Mario had a sack. We had two chances to get interceptions. Everybody's going to have a chance to do something. Your job this series or the next series might be taking on a block, but next time you may have to do something big. I look at that and you see opportunities."

Williams said it's all a work in progress, and that he looks forward to seeing where it will lead. Perhaps next season he might even line up in the same position as this season. Now, that would be a change.

"I think it gives us the variety, makes us kind of an offensive defense," Williams said. "I'm still adjusting to all this, but I'm getting more comfortable in what I'm doing all the time."

Broncos G Ben Hamilton and LB D.J. Williams are the only current players to make the 50th Anniversary team.

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