METAIRIE, La. (AP) — After 12 years in the NFL, six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams is willing to concede he may have lost a step.
Apparently, he hasn't lost his sense of humor.
Asked why a month — not to mention 10 offseason training sessions — passed between the time he met with coaches in New Orleans and the day he signed with the Saints, Williams grinned and responded, "I was waiting for minicamp, man."
The Saints hardly seemed bothered by the fact that Williams missed all of their voluntary offseason practices before agreeing on Friday to play in the Big Easy.
When mandatory minicamp opened Tuesday, Williams was lining up with the first-team defense. Only a day earlier, he was taking his physical and doing a quick study of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme.
"I can still play football. Maybe not as high a level as I was five or six years ago, but I think I still got something in the tank to give and to make a team better," Williams said.
"When you started 12 years in the league it takes a toll. I mean, I probably can't do 60 plays at maximum effort anymore, but I think I should still do 40, 45 real high-level plays and still make things happen."
If the 6-foot-5, 311-pound Williams can do what he says, that should help the Saints, who ranked second-to-last in defense last season.
Williams joined Seattle as a free agent in 2014 after spending his first 11 seasons in Minnesota, which had made him a first-round pick in 2003. He began last season as a backup before moving into a starting role on the interior defensive line because of an injury to nose tackle Brandon Mebane.
Williams started eight regular-season games and three playoff games — including the Super Bowl. He was credited with 29 regular-season tackles, including three sacks.
"He did a good job for them," Saints coach Sean Payton said, referring to Williams' most recent season with the Seahawks. "You know, he was available. I think he provides real good leadership. And he was a part of a real good defense."
Payton said he also likes the versatility Williams demonstrated in moving to nose tackle after having spent most of his career lined up as a "three-technique" defensive lineman, who lines up across from the gap between guard and tackle.
"He's someone who's real smart, so he understands football," Payton said. "He's played a lot of it, obviously."
Williams said his agent took calls from several teams, but that none expressed "real interest" to the extent the Saints did.
Williams also wanted to play for a contender, and sees the Saints as such, despite the fact they finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs last season.
"It's a good nucleus here of guys, a young group of guys on defense and they've got a quarterback and great talent on offense," Williams said. "The offensive line is great, so with that mix you've got a chance to win games every year.
"At the end of the day you want to have a chance to have a chance," added Williams, an Arkansas native who played at Oklahoma State. "This was the best situation I think for me and my family, so we're going to give it a run."
Notes: Williams said now that he's in New Orleans, he might like to drive up to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to visit former Vikings teammate Brett Favre, but added that he won't be dropping by unexpectedly. "I need to call him up," Williams said. "I don't want to surprise him. He might have shotguns and dogs." ... Outside linebacker and 2014 Saints sack leader Junior Galette, who is resting a pectoral injury, was at team headquarters and watched part of practice from the sideline. Asked if Galette will be ready to practice during training camp, Payton said, "Yeah, we'll see. I think that's the plan." ... Also missing practice were reserve defensive end Glenn Foster and reserve offensive guard Cyril Lemon.
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Posted on Wed, June 17, 2015
by BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer