Titans gain confidence in Williams

Early in the season, Damian Williams was struggling.

Dropped passes, incorrect routes and little issues led to a consultation with the teacher/offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, who expressed dissatisfaction with the way Williams had played thus far.

Along the way, Palmer said he told Williams that if he died of a heart attack, he would tell his wife to sue Williams because of all the stress the young receiver was putting on him at the time.

Since that conversation, Williams has been a changed man. And in Sunday's 30-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers, Williams had his first 100-yard receiving game of his career, catching five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. He now has 23 receptions for 300 yards and a team-best four touchdown catches.

“His biggest point to me was that he sees more in me than I do. Whether that's true or not, I don't know. That just lets me know that he expects a whole lot of me, and he probably expects as much from me as I expect from myself,” Williams said. “After we had our conversation after the Pittsburgh game, we started to get on the same page, and I know what he expects from me. I just go out and give 100 percent every day and hopefully, he keeps calling the ball my way.”

Williams, of course, entered the starting lineup when Kenny Britt went down with a torn ACL and was lost for the season in week three against Denver. While no one expects him to replace Britt's production by himself, Williams' steady improvement has helped curtail the drop-off that came when Britt was lost.

Williams said he has benefited from building chemistry with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, whom he did not get as many reps with while he was a second-teamer with Britt starting alongside Nate Washington.

“The biggest thing is just getting that chemistry down with Matt,” Williams said. “ At the beginning I wasn't practicing with him all the time, and he didn't really know where to expect me to be on certain timing balls. I didn't know exactly where to expect the throws and now I think we're starting to get that down.”

It also is a matter of confidence, not only the growing confidence Williams has in himself, but the confidence Hasselbeck has in him as well. Extra work last week with Washington missing practice time didn't hurt either.

“He got more opportunities and got more reps and was called upon a little bit more,” Hasselbeck said. “And he handled it well. I thought he had a great week of practice. … I think with him, the more he gets to play, the more comfortable he'll get, the more experience he'll get, and he's scoring touchdowns right now, which is really nice.”

Williams' back of the end zone touchdown the week before against Cincinnati was a highlight reel play and probably increased his quarterback's faith in him as a playmaker.

“I think you're just seeing a guy get better and better. It's confidence. It's the opportunities he's getting. (He made that catch) in the back of the end zone last week,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “He's caught quite a few on the sidelines now with some great catches for us.

“When you see guys doing that, the quarterback gets more confident to throw the tough throw to them because he's going to find a way to make that play. It's great to see. He had some drops earlier this year on some tough catches, but he did a good job of putting that behind him and moving forward. We need him to play big for us, as we do other guys, if we're going to make a run at this thing the last seven weeks.”

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