Since entering the league in 2018, winning is the only thing Darrel Williams has experienced.
In four seasons with the Chiefs, the running back has been to four AFC championship games and captured a Super Bowl ring with the 2020 squad.
The Cardinals haven’t had the same level of success, despite making a postseason appearance last year for the first time since 2015. But Williams believes he be an asset in that regard in the locker room.
“Just knowing what it takes to get there,” Williams said. “Whether it helps guys see things or make corrections. I can give all the knowledge to young and older guys here.”
Williams signed with the Cardinals this offseason after the Chiefs didn’t offer the running back a contract to return. Williams finished 2021 with 558 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 144 attempts, adding 452 receiving yards on 47 receptions and two touchdowns for the Chiefs.
Williams said he’s excited to join an offense that uses its running backs in a similar fashion to the Chiefs, although he acknowledged there will be a learning curve with coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.
“I’ve never been in an offense that has signals,” Williams said. “That’s something new to me, but the adjustment has been smooth, and I feel like I got everything down.”
Williams has built chemistry with James Conner, the Cardinals’ main rusher this season, by praising his natural receiver skills. The two bond off the field as well.
Though the RB1 position is set, RB2 is to be determined. Williams will battle with Eno Benjamin, Keaontay Ingram, and Jonathan Ward in training camp for the job. It’s a crowded room with talent, something that Williams embraces to the fullest.
“It’s good to have competition,” Williams said. “I feel it brings out the best of me.”
SIMMONS VS. HOPKINS ALL GOOD
Linebacker Isaiah Simmons shut down any talk of potential friction with wideout DeAndre Hopkins after things between the stars got feisty during practice on Tuesday.
“Hop is actually my best friend on the team and my big brother,” Simmons said. “To get under his skin, I had to keep going, but we hugged it out at the end of the day. He knows there are no hard feelings. That’s why I was smiling the whole time, but I was glad to see him get a little fiery because he’s really calm and peaceful. To see him get like that was good to see.”
Simmons wasn’t exactly sure what he did to make Hopkins mad and said it’s the first time he’s done it.
“He (usually) makes me mad because he tells me everything I don’t want to hear, which is something you want from someone like him,” Simmons said. “Normally, it’s the other way around, so I had to take advantage when the script flipped.”
THE SEARCH FOR PUNT RETURNERS
As the Cardinals seek their punt returners for the season, Kingsbury acknowledged the return game as a whole — for both kickoffs and punts — has morphed. With the rules on kickoffs and punters who can place the ball deep in a territory or longer hang times, the definition has evolved.
“You don’t see the time of notoriety it might’ve had back in the day,” Kingsbury said. “Like Devin Hester and what he was known for because the opportunities aren’t there.
“You always want a guy you feel safe with back there; that’s going to possess the ball and get into the offense. But I don’t think the emphasis is put on it like it once was.”
In the Kingsbury era, the Cardinals have averaged 7.2 yards on punt returns and 21.3 yards on kickoff returns. Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore were the primary punt returners last season. This year, with Kirk gone, Moore is still a possibility, with Greg Dortch and Victor Bolden getting looks there. On kickoffs, Dortch and Eno Benjamin are two possibilities.