The Ravens have had 20 un-drafted free agents working out at their team facility at a rookie mini-camp that started Friday and ends today. If anybody knows what they are going through, from the burning desire to make a strong impression to the bouts of uncertainty to the nerves and fatigue, it is LaQuan Williams.
Williams, who played his high school football at Poly before moving on to the University of Maryland, reported to training camp last year as an un-drafted free agent knowing that he had a little margin of error if he wanted to make the Ravens’ roster.
He not only accomplished that but an early-season injury to veteran Lee Evans led to Williams getting some key snaps offensively. While his closest friend, former Maryland teammate and fellow Ravens’ rookie Torrey Smith caught the game-winning touchdown in the Ravens’ thrilling 23-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last November, Williams made a big 13-yard catch early in the game-winning drive.
That was part of a season in which he totaled four catches for 46 yards and caused a key fumble on special teams in the Ravens’ lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
As he prepares for his second NFL season, Williams will go into the offseason workouts and camps with the same mindset that he brought last year, when he was considered a long shot to make the roster.
"I'm just coming in focused,” said Williams while making an appearance at Ray Rice Day Sunday at Calvert Hall. “I'm going to do what I got to do to get on the field. I'm not going to ever take for granted where I'm at. I'm going to keep working hard."
The Ravens have certainly increased their depth at wide receiver in the last couple of weeks, adding former University of Miami standout Tommy Streeter in the sixth round of the draft and then signing free agent Jacoby Jones. They currently have 13 wide receivers on their roster, including three un-drafted free agents.
That should make the battle for the wide receiver spots one of training camp’s most interesting story lines, not that Williams is consumed by it.
“Mentally, the game has slowed down a lot for me,” said Williams. “Being able to have a true offseason where I can get in there and critique my game and focus on things, I'm not worried at all."
Williams also knows that his play on special teams gives him an extra dimension.
"That's the reason I'm on the team,” he said. “Of course, every guy wants to play receiver. I'm just going to take my time with that and keep working at it. But special teams is definitely where I can make an impact on the team."