Karlos Williams’ turbulent summer isn’t over just yet.
The Bills’ running back started training camp on the non-football illness list, working out on the sidelines and second field with the team’s injured players. Of course, he didn’t tweak a groin or break a foot like some of the others. He’s still working his way back from coming into minicamp overweight.
“I’m very disappointed in myself,” Williams said. “I put the organization, my teammates, my family in a very bad situation. I only can learn from my mistakes this offseason and get ready to get back in shape, get ready to play football and move forward.”
Williams has been working with the staff since minicamp to cut down on the weight. He feels he’s made progress, just not enough to get on the field just yet.
“It’s nothing but work,” Williams said. “Heavy conditioning, hitting the weight room hard again as usual. It’s just about getting my body back where it’s supposed to be, at top peak shape.”
It’s put the Bills in a tough position, balancing his need to get snaps with risk of injury.
“We weren’t going to rush him back, give him an unrealistic goal,” Bills head coach Rex Ryan said. “We had that last year with Boobie Dixon. He went out the first day, passed the conditioning test, blew out muscles and all that stuff.”
The setbacks are starting to pile up for Williams. In addition to his conditioning issues, the sophomore running back was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Those mistakes might cost him some playing time. Ryan wouldn’t guarantee the position of LeSean McCoy’s backup would be his when he returns from the suspension. The Bills have four other running backs on the roster: Mike Gillislee, Boom Herron, James Wilder, Jr. and Jonathan Williams. The team is also reportedly targeting former Lions running back Reggie Bush.
“You never know,” Ryan said. “Opportunity comes. Sometimes adversity comes with opportunities for other people. We’ll see what happens.”
Williams had an outstanding rookie season, rushing for 517 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 5.6 yards a carry, among the best in the league.
So what went wrong? At minicamp he said during the off-season he would frequently eat extra meals with his then-pregnant fiance. After a while, the meals added up. He chalked it up to “being a young guy, a young kid, just making bad decisions and not thinking things through.”
“I think that happens so a lot of people coming into the NFL,” Williams said. “They have good success, then you just kind of go off the rails just a little bit.”
Williams had a clear message after day one: what’s done is done. The rest of camp and the preseason is about earning his teammates respect back and giving back to a coaching staff and ownership group that invested in him.
“I believe people make mistakes,” Williams said. “It’s all about the change. I’m not a big person about talking about changing. It’s all about showing people.”