The rub against Andre Williams during the draft was that he could not catch the ball in college. Williams likes to think of it a little differently. It's not that he couldn't. It's just that he didn't.
At Boston College, where he was the nation's leading rusher in 2013, he was used mostly in the I-formation as a straight-ahead pounder of the ball. And it worked. But so far with the Giants he's been shedding that one-dimension label, slashing through the line of scrimmage with impressive moves and even catching a pass out of the backfield on his very first snap of training camp.
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"If you've been watching practice and if you watched him last spring, he's become more than that," Tom Coughlin said. "He was not used that way at BC, but he certainly has demonstrated the ability to do that."
Rookie players usually narrow the focus of what they can do to contribute to their NFL team after college. Williams is expanding his.
"I know they featured him in the run game exclusively there [at Boston College], so when you come to the next level you have to do more multifaceted things and he is working very hard in that area, as you can see in practice," running backs coach Craig Robinson said.
A lot of things will be different for Williams than they were last year. For one, he won't be getting quite as many touches (he averaged 27.3 carries in 13 games in 2013). For another, he won't be the obvious focus of opposing defenses.
"Being a workhorse at Boston College, every time I lined up I saw eight or nine bodies in the box and now sometimes I am coming out and it's only five or six, so that is definitely a positive," he said.
Plus, by adding other aspects to his game, he'll be able to diversify.
That's not to say Williams, at a stout 5-11 and 230 pounds, won't go back to relying on the power that attracted the Giants to him in the first place.
"As long as it's running the ball," he said, "I think it's something I can excel at."