Chicago Bears linebacker D.J. Williams hasn’t practiced since the first week of training camp due to a calf injury, yet he was a full participant in today’s session.
“I've been out here. I've tested it out, threw it in the dirt and ran and pushed off of it,” Williams said after practice. “Now it's in the back of my head. Now I'm just playing.”
“He worked good and I liked what I saw today,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
Yet how much Williams will be playing this Sunday in the regular season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals is still up for debate.
“We’ll wait and see how the week plays out, then make a decision at the end of the week and do what’s best for the team,” Tucker said. ”We had him out there today. He moved around and did some good things so we’ll continue to monitor his progress.”
Williams is a 10-year veteran, so missing the preseason shouldn’t hurt him that much. At this point, the worry isn’t about his understanding of the playbook but whether or not he’s at a conditioning level that will allow him to play 60 minutes.
“We’re going to let him work the week,” Trestman said. “He’s looked good, he looked good today at practice. He moved well. He looks like he’s in decent condition. I don’t know that he’s in game condition to play 60 or 70 plays, or 50 or 60 plays. We’re going to just let the week take its course. Both him and Jonathan [Bostic] are getting plenty of work, and we’re excited to have him back, certainly. If we have to make a decision, it’s a good one.”
Williams admits to being behind conditioning-wise but he doesn’t see it affecting him that much once the adrenaline starts flowing.
“I know coming into the first game there's going to be a little gas, a little winded,” Williams said. “But the first game of the season everybody is going to be kind of like that.”
While Williams has been on the shelf, second-round rookie Jon Bostic took all of the first-team snaps at middle linebacker during the preseason. If Williams can’t go, or is limited in the game, the Bears won’t hesitate to use Bostic. In fact, it appears as if Trestman is open to both players getting reps with the first team on Sunday.
“There’s no reason they can’t both be up,” said Trestman. “Jonathan, if he’s not taking as many snaps at the middle linebacker position, that’ll give him more opportunities on special teams. If it continues this way, we’ll see how it goes, we’ll make a final decision how we’re going to play them. It looks like they’ll both be able to play. How much, at this point, we’ve got a couple more days and we’ll see how D.J. feels at the end of the week.”
Williams said the defense is in good hands if Bostic has to play substantial snaps against the Bengals.
“Coming into the league out of college it's a big difference, whether it's scheme-wise or the size and the speed of the game,” said Williams. “He adapted pretty well, in preseason made some big plays. If I wasn't ready for this week I wouldn't worry about him if he had to be the starter.”
Trestman echoed his confidence in the rookie.
“D.J. hasn’t played, so we felt comfortable that Jonathan would be the starter this week if he had to play middle linebacker and do it. He still may be. And we’re comfortable with that,” Trestman said. “We’re excited about the fact that both will be available to play and we’ll make a decision how much as the week proceeds.”
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