FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Quinnen Williams has been limited with a calf injury, but he’s been fully engaged in practice, in meetings and whenever Steve McLendon has something to say.
The Jets' veteran nose tackle has taken the rookie nose tackle under his wing. McLendon is teaching Williams all about what it takes to be an NFL player and to be a man on and off the field.
“He’s a great leader,” Williams said after Wednesday’s minicamp. “He’s helped me tremendously. I really have a role model to follow. He’s a veteran and he’s been outrageous helping me with a lot of stuff.”
You name it, the 33-year-old McLendon has covered it with Williams, 21.
He’s talked to Williams about children, saving his money, what vitamins he needs to take, what he needs to do for his body to recover, how organized team activities and minicamp will go and what he should do to get ready for training camp. Williams said he's been basically given "the blueprint" by McLendon.
“It’s amazing to have a veteran like that,” Williams said.
Believe it or not, it works both ways with these two defensive linemen.
McLendon gives the former Alabama standout tips on his stance and footwork when he comes off the field. But Williams, who the Jets selected with the No. 3 pick, does the same for McLendon. Williams tells the 10-year veteran when he sees something wrong with his technique.
“He stays in my pocket,” McLendon said. “As soon as I come off the field, ‘What were you thinking there? What did you see here. What did you think about this?’ Also he’s helping me with some things that I did not see that I was doing to help me get better.
“I feel comfortable when I leave this business, when I leave the Jets, I know this young man can step in and even this year and make a huge impact in this league.”
That’s what the Jets are counting on, and that’s why they’re being very cautious with Williams.
Coach Adam Gase said Williams suffered the calf injury during the first practice of OTAs last month. Gase called it “a little bit of a scare” when he first got hurt. But now Gase expects Williams to be “full go” when the Jets hold their final OTA next week.
“Anytime a big guy has any kind of calf injury it can be a time-consuming type thing, so you just want to be careful bringing him back,” Gase said. “I’ve seen guys where it lingers, and you rush him back too fast. We just got to be careful. We’re in a good place right now. We’ve done it the right way. Things are looking exactly where we need them to be heading into next week.”
Williams has been taking part in individual drills and has played with the third unit on some team period work. He had what would have been a sack Tuesday. Gase said the goal is for Williams to play with the first or second team next week.
“Him being with the group he’s with right now, he disrupts everything,” Gase said. “We got to get him up with those first two groups. Next week he’ll probably be rolling with those guys. It will be more challenging for him. Right now, you can see the difference between his skill set and the guys he’s going against.”
Williams, who combines speed and power on the line, isn’t showing any frustration that he can’t be on the field. He said it’s just as important that he watches and gets “mental reps.”
By all accounts, the versatile Williams is picking things up quickly. He's not stressing over not being able to show defensive coordinator Gregg Williams how he fits in his system.
“I think I fit good,” Quinnen Williams said. “Me just being smart, high IQ, learning all three positions, wherever he wants me to play I’m going to be able to play. Wherever he feels is best for me I’m going to be able to play. I can be able to spread around my athletic ability and be dominant everywhere for the team."