Kyle Williams is approaching the end of another NFL season with no playoff appearance. That makes nine years in a row for the burly defensive tackle, the closest that any player who has continuously been on the Buffalo Bills active roster can come to being part of the full 15-year drought.
This hasn’t been the easiest of years for Williams, who is the Bills’ consummate grinder.
Besides falling short of the postseason once again, there was the torn medial collateral ligament he suffered in the fourth game of the season. He was expected to miss multiple games, but mostly through sheer will he sat out only one. And he played well enough in 14 games to be selected to a fourth Pro Bowl, securing his place among the more decorated players at his position in franchise history.
Still, Williams is 31. He’s at a stage when some consummate grinders decide they simply don’t want to grind anymore – especially without ever seeing that playoff payoff.
“My disappointment’s deep,” he acknowledged Wednesday, as the Bills continued preparations for Sunday’s season finale at New England. “It’s tough to swallow every year.”
But after swallowing hard once again, Williams has decided that he fully intends to keep on grinding.
“Considering how, at this time of year, I’ve felt” physically “the last few years, considering how I feel now, compared to the last two or three, I feel good,” he said. “And more importantly, as long as I’m able to play up to the standard I have for myself, I want to play. I love to play, I love my teammates, I love to go out and compete. So I’m not here to say two more, three more, four. I don’t want to put a cap on myself because I don’t know.
“But as long as I can play up to the standard that I want to play, and I can give everything I’ve got to my teammates, I’ll keep going.”
That’s good news for Bills coach Doug Marrone.
For now, he doesn’t want to even ponder the possibility of Williams not being the integral part he has been to one of the best defenses in the NFL.
The time for assessing each player on the roster and gauging just how much a long-time veteran still has left in the tank begins next week.
“Obviously, we hope not,” Marrone said of Williams being at the end of the line. “If he keeps playing at a high level, which he has been able to play at, I think that’s the most important thing. I’ve never even thought about the longevity or where he’s at. I think, when the season is over, you go through that process.”
Other than the thought of pushing through another summer of training camp at St. John Fisher College, Williams still finds all aspects of the job as fun as they were when he joined the Bills as a sixth-round draft pick from LSU in 2006.
He enjoys preparing for each game, finding even the tiniest bit of information from studying video that he can use to his advantage. He enjoys helping teammates benefit from similar intelligence.
Williams recalled a recent conversation with fellow Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus in which they noted how far Dareus has come in absorbing football knowledge since joining the Bills as a first-round pick in 2011.
“I’ll say, ‘Hey, they’re in ‘21’ personnel, two backs and one tight end, Williams said. “He knows what I’m talking about without going into depth about it. That’s always fun to see how guys grasp it and work on it every week.”
As much as anything, Williams serves as a tremendous example to the other players on the team about physical and mental toughness.
He didn’t allow a knee injury to prevent him from having another Pro Bowl season, just as he refused to allow a foot injury that cost him 11 games in 2011 to keep him from bouncing back with three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.
“I think, with Kyle, you kind of take that for granted a little bit because he’s done that throughout his career,” Marrone said. “I think it’s a testament to him. When you go around the league and you talk to other offensive line coaches, they talk about the defensive line and they talk about Kyle. I think there’s an appreciation for the way he plays.
“It’s a great story, where he was drafted and what he’s been able to do with that. He’s really an all-around guy; good leader, good player, good family man. There are a lot of things that you get with that.”
And it looks as if the Bills can count on getting it a little longer.