7

Will Chargers receiver Mike Williams put it all together after up-and-down start?

Mike Williams is everything you’d want in a wide receiver. Big — 6-foot-4, 220 pounds — fast (4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and able to land in the most awkward positions imaginable. And get up standing. Unhurt. Well, maybe with a few aches and pains.

“I don’t even think about it,” said of his often-acrobatic landings. “My mind is ‘catch the ball.’ When you land it can be pretty violent.

“But I don’t think about it. However I land, I land. I’m just trying to make a football play.”

He’s made plenty of football plays for the Los Angeles Chargers thus far this season, developing an early connection with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. He is averaging 17.3 yards per reception, hauling in 18 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns, despite dealing with nagging injuries.

Williams has always stronger and bigger than just about everyone dating back to his childhood growing up in Tampa, Florida, playing both football and basketball for Plant High School. He signed to play football at Clemson but the hops from hoops always stayed with him.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap7

“Me and the homies playing in the backyard,” he explained. “Throw the ball up … we all made catches like that. It’s nothing to the people back home.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Herbert took notice once he got settled into the starting role and coaches pulled out the playbook. He discovered that Williams is a matchup nightmare for nearly any cornerback or safety.

And that’s why Herbert said he knows now that anytime he sees Williams, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 draft, on the sideline covered by a single player, he’s going to Williams because he knows the receiver will make a play on the ball.

“It’s on tape,” Williams said. “I’ve shown I can do it. He [Herbert] has seen it. Coaches have seen me multiple times doing it.”

And so he does and, at times, is very successful. After a shoulder injury before the season began (from diving in practice, something Chargers coach Anthony Lynn obviously frowns upon) he has, also at times, been show-stopping. But is this the year that he finally breaks through?

In 2019, he had 49 receptions for 1,001 yards and a 20.4-yards-per-catch average (which led all receivers) and two touchdowns. He caught 10 touchdown passes in 2018, a season in which he had 43 receptions for 664 yards. He leads the league in receptions of more than 35 yards dating to the start the 2019 season.

When Keenan Allen left the Week 5 game against the New Orleans Saints with back spasms, coaches told Williams to “go out and play.”

He did that, and then some. He caught a dazzling 64-yard touchdown pass with 3:40 left in the fourth quarter to give the Chargers a 27-20 lead, one of his five receptions for 109 yards against the Saints while battling a hamstring injury.

He also put the Chargers in position to win by making a leaping, 29-yard catch in double coverage with 15 seconds left to play and the game tied at 27-27, setting up Michael Badgley for a game-winning field-goal attempt. Badgley missed the 50-yard try, but Williams put him in position to be the hero.