When Ravens first-year pass game specialist Keith Williams spoke with reporters after training camp practice Friday, it was only a matter of time before he was asked about his innovative drill.
On Thursday, Williams was seen throwing soccer balls at the team’s receivers during stop-and-go drills. Williams explained that the concept originated six months ago as a way for players to work on hand placement, catching approach and dexterity.
“I just continually always try to find the best way to coach,” Williams said. “I think about how we can improve on a certain skill set and how we can improve on a certain aspect of wideout play. If I’m not doing a drill for that or haven’t thought of a philosophy, I just try to come up with one better way to help the guy.”
Receivers have done this drill with Williams throughout the offseason, but he believes anyone who hasn’t seen it would think it’s strange. He even admitted that he felt weird when he first started teaching it.
As Williams finds creative ways to improve on his receivers’ pass-catching abilities, he preaches his philosophy of focusing on the present and playing at your highest level everyday.
“I know it sounds cliche and it’s corny, but it’s true,” Williams said. “That’s the only way you’re going to get better in my opinion, is to play as hard as you can.”
Williams was hired in February along with wide receivers coach Tee Martin. Williams said he was surprised when coach John Harbaugh contacted him about the job. “We didn’t have a relationship before this,” Williams said. “We know some mutual people, I believe, and so he contacted me and then the conversation started.”
Williams said it’s ironic to be working with Martin, as their relationship predates their arrival in Baltimore.
“When I was at Nebraska, we recruited a lot in California so me and Tee would battle in the recruiting streets for some kids,” Williams said. “I know him as a friend and we know people mutually that go back prior to us coaching.”
Williams spent 18 years at the college level, serving as a wide receiver coach at schools such as Nebraska, Fresno State, Tulane and San Jose State. Though Williams wasn’t looking at this specific opportunity, he said coaching in the NFL is a blessing.
Before joining the Ravens, Williams served as a personal wide receivers coach for NFL stars, such as the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill, the Green Bay Packers’ Davante Adams and former Chief and current Raven Sammy Watkins.
“It’s a blessing to have him hands-on,” Watkins said Thursday. “I’ve got him every single day to be in my ear — or when I get tired or when I mess up on this route — ‘Aye, focus, focus.’ So, that’s the type of thing I think any athlete needs.”
Williams jokingly admitted he’s heard from other NFL receivers who are not too happy about his new role with the Ravens.
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“It’s been kind of sad for me too,” Williams said. “I got a great relationship with all those guys. I miss working with them, but I’m here now.”