Restless Williams set to return

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 19, 2011 - 10:55 PM

The defensive tackle has completed his suspension and is ready to help the Vikings turn around an 0-2 start.

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Minnesota Vikings defensive end Kevin Williams.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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The question was simple: How do you feel? But Kevin Williams took it a little deeper.

Williams, the Vikings' star defensive tackle, was back at Winter Park Monday, having served out his two-week StarCaps suspension.

"I feel good," Williams said. "The rest helped my foot, but not my mind. We're 0-2 right now."

Williams hopes he can help end that opening losing streak. He said he worked out on his own during his two weeks, splitting his time between workouts and arranging for treatment for the plantar fasciitis in his foot. But during the past two Sundays, he was like a lot of Vikings fans.

"I was here on the couch, yelling at the screen," said Williams, who stayed in the Twin Cities during the suspension.

It had to be hard on a player who had missed only two games in his career before the NFL-imposed vacation.

"It was tough," he said. "I want to be out there with the guys. Not to be able to is a terrible feeling. So it was real difficult watching, especially the way it unfolded in both of those games."

Williams did some running to test the foot, and did his workouts. He said the foot wasn't 100 percent, but as close as it likely will get this season. But it remains to be seen how much he lost in terms of football shape. He'll know more when he straps on the pads again.

The Vikings need him. According to Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, Williams' impact will be big both on and off the field.

"Kevin Williams is an impact player and he is a potential Hall of Famer," Frazier said. "So having him back, not only what he does on the football field, but the intangibles in the locker room ... will be a big factor."

Thus ends Williams' years-long struggle. Well, sort of. Williams was suspended for two games, but was fined two more games' pay -- about $1.4 million. That means he'll essentially be playing the next two games for free. And it clearly still rankles him.

"I did most of it on my own," he said when asked about his training regimen. "It was going to be tough enough to be trying to hire a trainer. And heck, I can't afford it. They've taken enough money."

Williams also joked about having a collection pot passed to help him out.

But seriously: "I try not to think about it anymore," Williams said of the case, the suspension and the fine. "It's become a numb feeling that I'll be out there for two weeks without pay."

But play he will. It was hard enough to watch his team and not be able to help.

"How it unfolded in the end? I think we gave two games away," he said. "In this league we can't afford to do that. We've got to get it going this week."

With Williams in the starting lineup, finally. The Vikings have until Wednesday to make a roster move to make room for Williams.

"I'm definitely going to play," he said. "Sitting at home two weeks was bad enough. The foot ain't going to stop me.''

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