Much of what Chris Williams has done in the NFL to this point has been considered worthy of the “bust” label as a former first round draft choice. The Chicago Bears selected him as an offensive tackle 14th overall in the 2008 draft out of Vanderbilt, but injuries really ruled his four and a half year stint in the Windy City before the Bears let him go last October. One team’s trash is always another team’s treasure in the NFL, and the St. Louis Rams certainly have made that adage true.
Williams signed with the Rams just six days after being cut by the Bears, and general manager Les Snead thought enough of him to bring him back for another year with the squad. While coach Jeff Fisher hasn’t revealed his cards yet, the battle at left guard appears to be going Williams’ way. He and Shelley Smith are in a fight to stake a claim to the position after the Rams unceremoniously parted ways with expected starter Rokevious Watkins when his weigh-in the first day of training camp tipped the scales.
As for the battle between Williams and Smith, coach Fisher told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“Chris has been moving around, which is good. The flexibility at the left guard spot and then a little bit of right tackle here and there. It’s good. (And) Shelley’s moving around a little bit, playing left guard, right guard. We’ve got depth there.”
When pressed on whether the team actually has a starter at the position, Fisher said:
“We’re getting there. We may be ready to make an announcement this week at some point.”
If it’s any indication, Smith has gotten more snaps in preseason action, but Williams has actually gotten the bulk of the first-team snaps. While it’s always nice to get the extra work, it seems that Williams has the upper hand heading into the homestretch as the Rams prepare to name their starting left guard.
With some solid depth along the line, a versatile rookie in Barrett Jones still developing, and a high-priced free agent acquisition at left tackle like Jake Long, the Rams may finally be equipped to properly insulate quarterback Sam Bradford this season. It’s been a long time coming for the former No. 1 overall pick, but 2013 could be the year everything comes together in terms of weaponry and protection.