Skip to main content

Mario makes up his mind


Mario Williams can't garner enough buzz these days. The third-year pro has impressed national reporters, teammates and coaches with his play at the line of scrimmage during the Texans' offseason workouts.

And rightfully so. The Texans aren't playing games yet, but Williams looks stronger and faster than he did in 2007 when he finished tied for third in the NFL with a team-record 14 sacks.

"That light went on for Mario somewhere last year about Week 7 or 8," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "Everybody saw it. If you watch practice right now, you see him at another level. I think the sky's the limit for him.

"I just love the way he works. I love the way he handles himself. Football is very important to Mario, and he's working his way toward a big, big year."

{QUOTE}Williams feels the same way. The defensive end has carried over last season's momentum after upping his conditioning program during the offseason.

"I just worked harder," Williams said. "That's pretty much the only thing you can do to get better - working harder and pushing yourself and having teammates that push you."

However, Williams credits his superior play during OTAs to his newfound mindset.

"It's all about the mindset," Williams said. "It's all about the attitude in wanting to do it. I'm just really trying to get that attitude all of the time. I'm just trying to get out there and get off the ball and make something happen."

Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin also saw a rapid improvement in his star pupil around Week 7 last season, and Williams has continued to build on that confidence

"That is such a big part of this game, just playing with confidence and belief and knowing that you have the ability to take over a game and take over a certain player," Franklin said. "His confidence level went out the roof. If we can just continue to do that and, again, focus on the 'finish' part of it and do things for him so that his confidence level continues to go up, the sky's the limit for him."

Specifically, Franklin would like to see Williams consistently execute plays from start to finish: Show proper footwork on a base block, get rid of the blocker and then make a play behind the line of scrimmage.

What has impressed the coach is Williams' speed off the ball. Because the team is not tackling and contact is limited during OTAs, Williams often tears through the line and stands next to quarterback Matt Schaub as he releases the ball.

"He's out there doing things that we expected him to do, but it's nice to see him doing them," Franklin said. "It's fun to watch. He's going to continue to get better.

"The sky's the limit. He's not there yet, but he's making some strides toward where he needs to be."

In Franklin's first year with the team last season, Williams improved his sack total by 9.5 and recorded 59 tackles and his first career touchdown. Williams appreciates the coach's tough attitude toward him.

"That's what we need," Williams said, speaking for the entire defensive line. "We need a coach that is really tough on you and continues to push you. So I just keep working hard and listening to what he says and pay attention to coach every day."

Next season, the team plans to use Williams in more sophisticated pass rush scenarios to help keep him from being double teamed. The defensive end will play on both sides of the line and could move inside in certain situations.

Moving to new positions doesn't rattle Williams. He's more concerned with making sure the defensive line makes a statement in 2008.

"We've got to be feared," Williams said. "Obviously, we are a very young defensive line, but we've got to get the mindset that when we are out there everybody looks at it like a challenge. We can't be pushovers. We just have to get it and make it happen."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content