Leonard Williams had never missed a game in high school or college and had gone 114 straight games in the NFL without having to sit any out. So when he found himself inactive Monday night for the big game against the Cowboys due to a knee injury from the game before, he wasn’t quite sure what to do.
“It was weird,” he said Friday. “I didn’t know how much I should be engaged, how much I shouldn’t be engaged. I didn’t want to get in the way of the coaches but I also didn’t want to just be there. I wanted to try to help out as much as possible. There was a weird middle ground I was trying to find.”
Did he find it?
“I think so,” he said, noting that just prior to kickoff he pulled teammate Dexter Lawrence aside to point out a tendency on the Dallas offensive line that came in handy during the contest. “He was happy about that.”
No one, though, is happy that Williams will have to miss a second straight game.
The defensive lineman has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bears, a game in which his play up front especially would have come in handy facing Chicago’s run-first offense.
Williams does have optimism he’ll be back soon, though. He has been able to run on the side during practice without much discomfort.
“I’m moving pretty well,” he said. “I make a joke around the building that I say I have tiger blood and I’m like Wolverine and stuff like that. It’s been healing pretty quickly but I’m listening to my body and I am going for the long term over short term gains.”
Williams said never really thought about his streak of games played but recalled marveling at veteran Jets teammate D’Brickashaw Ferguson when he was drafted by the Jets. Ferguson, a Freeport native, played in 160 straight games in his 10-year career, never missing one.
“That stuck with me,” Williams said. “Even though he never talked to me and probably never knew that I held onto that, it’s been a part of me since learning that about him.”
Williams didn’t quite make it to 160, but his 114 is still impressive.
“I’m glad I was able to make it as far as I did and be a durable player,” he said. “Luckily this wasn’t something season ending or surgery needed and hopefully I’ll be back out there as soon as possible.”