Rejuvenated Williams fills hole at Vikings' nose tackle

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 9, 2013 - 12:31 AM

But, at 33, Kevin Williams prefers former position.

 

Kevin Williams figured he’d sleep all day Friday after playing a season-high 63 snaps at nose tackle in a 34-27 victory the night before against the Washington Redskins.

In reality, those bumps and bruises collected from banging bodies at the defense’s anchor position made it impossible to relax.

“It wasn’t the best night of sleep,” Williams said Friday. “Just a little sore.”

He wasn’t complaining after playing a starring role with a throwback performance at a new position. Forced to play nose tackle because of injuries to Letroy Guion and Fred Evans, Williams dominated like a 26-year-old version of himself to help tighten the screws on Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Williams collected 2½ sacks in the second half to post his first multi-sack game since 2009. Not bad for a guy who isn’t crazy about playing nose tackle.

“I just embraced it,” he said.

And if he’s still listed at nose tackle when he returns to work on Monday?

“Are you sure? That will be my reaction,” Williams said, laughing. “If those guys can’t go, I look at it as next man up and I’ll have to do it again.”

At age 33 and in his 11th season, Williams has built a résumé worthy of Hall of Fame consideration at the other tackle position known as the 3-technique. He’s been named first-team All Pro five times and earned six Pro Bowl nominations.

Williams now ranks 11th in NFL history in sacks by a defensive tackle with 59. He needs only two sacks to move into a tie for 10th place with Michael Dean Perry. Williams already is tied with Dan Wilkinson for most interceptions by a defensive tackle in league history with five.

Given the way he dominated at nose tackle Thursday night, it’s reasonable to consider whether Williams should switch positions permanently.

“My first thought I would say, ‘No,’ ” he said. “But I’m the ultimate team guy. If it will help us win games and give us a better chance to win, I’m for it.”

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the coaching staff will discuss whether to keep Williams at that position.

“I’ll tell you, the way he played in that ballgame, it’s something we’ve got to consider,” Frazier said. “We count on Letroy and Fred to do a good job for us there, but Kevin did some really good things.”

Thin at nose tackle

Injuries to Guion and Evans have left the Vikings with only three healthy tackles: Williams, rookie Sharrif Floyd and little-used backup Chase Baker.

So on Monday, defensive line coach Brendan Daly told Williams that the coaches needed him to slide over one spot. Williams joked that Floyd should play nose tackle since he’s younger.

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