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DL Coach: Sam Williams Is Primed for 2023


FRISCO, Texas - Don't look now, but there is yet another defensive player for the Dallas Cowboys primed for a breakout season when the 2023 campaign gets underway. Sam Williams, the team's 2022 second-round pick, was a menace whenever he took the field as a rookie; and the efficiency of his production in limited reps points glaringly at what's to come.

The current record-holder for most sacks in the history of Ole Miss played mostly in rotation behind Dante Fowler and others in Year 1, but was still able to produce four sacks — tied with Osa Odighizuwa for fifth-most on the team last year — and many more pressures and disruptions in the backfield.

And for a non-starter to earn at least one vote for NFL AP Defensive Rookie of the Year says something about his potential to be a dominant rusher off of the edge. 

"I need 10 sacks," Williams said during Cowboys OTAs. "Ten sacks will open up a lot of opportunities for me. Obviously, the team goal is to win a championship, but my personal goal and what I'm working towards is getting better with my hands, and I need 10 sacks."

Given his pace last season, more opportunities should easily equate to more sacks, so his goal isn't exactly far-fetched to anyone who paid attention to Williams' instant impact and progression over the course of last season.

Better still is the fact he's not only taking well to the teachings of his coaching staff and fellow pass rushers, e.g., Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence, but he's also using his time away from the building to make improvements so that when he returns for practice, he's made that much more progress over the previous day or week.

That mindset isn't going unnoticed, as defensive line coach Aden Durde so pleasantly pointed out as minicamp concluded on Thursday. 

"You can see that he's learned how to develop himself, and that's not to say that we don't develop them, but the biggest jump for Sam is he's becoming a true professional," said Durde. "I see the work that he puts in and the structure that he's put in off of the field. He comes in and you see his flexibility has changed, his coordination has changed, his stance is better. The things he's needed to work on, he's gone out and worked on and improved. 

"I'm excited for him."

Williams got plenty of run with the first team in minicamp and logic dictates he'll see more than his fair share in training camp as well, with padded practice getting underway effective July 31. It is at that point we'll all get a better look at Williams in his second offseason under Durde and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

So go ahead and count Durde in as, already, being one of Williams' biggest fans, adding to a rapidly growing list of them inside of the building.

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