FRISCO, Texas – Given the year we're all presently going through, it's understandable if you forgot about Connor Williams.
The Cowboys' left guard tore his ACL last season during the Thanksgiving loss to Buffalo. He missed the final month of a season that most people wanted to forget.
But even if you forgot about Williams' injury, he obviously did not. Just nine months after suffering the injury, Williams is back in his usual spot in the lineup. The fact that he's even available at all, let alone routinely getting practice reps, is a testament to some hard work.
"Obviously, it was a very long road," Williams said on Monday. "First ACL and it's a huge injury, so I didn't really know what to expect at first. But slowly day by day, head down, grinded."
Like many other Cowboys players before him, Williams had glowing praise for associate athletic trainer Britt Brown, who is the team's Director of Rehabilitation. Even in an offseason that was shut down by a global pandemic, players who were recovering from injuries were allowed to use team facilities. So Brown was on hand throughout the spring to help Williams get back up to speed.
"I've been here all offseason doing rehab and recoveries and Britt Brown's done a great job with me trying to get me back on the field," Williams said. "I honestly feel really great right now and I feel better where I left off last year."
The hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. Asked about Williams during his Monday morning press conference, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said he's been very impressed with what he's been able to do.
There was speculation heading into training camp that Williams would be in a competition with Connor McGovern for the left job role. To be fair, the Cowboys have rotated players at every position consistently, and McGovern has seen plenty of opportunities. McCarthy even mentioned that Williams' recovery is something that is always weighed in regard to his training time.
"There's a lot of mathematics that goes into these opinions and decisions of how you practice your team," McCarthy said. "With Connor, the rehab and everything he's gone through, that'll be taken into account of how we practice him and some of the others."
Even still, with the season quickly approaching, Williams is clearly on track to contribute. It might have gone unseen at the time, but all that hard work isn't going unnoticed any longer.
"I love the progress that we're making. I think we're looking great as an offensive line," Williams said. "I think we're all coming together. I think we're making each other better. I think we're pushing each other, and I'm very excited where we're headed."