FRISCO, Texas – If Connor Williams had a “Welcome to the NFL” moment on Sunday, he got another one in short order on Wednesday.
It speaks to the spotlight of the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys, that the rookie guard was swarmed by reporters on Wednesday afternoon. But that’s to be expected when you surrender two sacks in a season-opening loss.
“It’s a challenging task for him Week 1 to go against that defensive front,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “There were some good things for him. There’s some areas in pass protection that wasn’t good enough and we’ll continue to work with him on that.”
To Garrett’s point, Williams’ season opener was always bound to be a baptism by fire. Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short is a Pro Bowl who has tallied 26.5 sacks in his last three seasons, and he is currently playing on a five-year, $80 million contract.
“He had a couple of times that he had some problems, but those guys in the middle of the Carolina defensive line will give anybody problems," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
Well before he was drafted, the scouting report on Williams was that he’d need time to develop strength for the NFL game. Originally an offensive tackle at Texas, Williams brings plenty of technique to the field, but he’ll have some adjusting to do to handle the powerful interior pass rushers on the Cowboys’ schedule.
“Yeah, it’s definitely an adjustment for technique,” Williams said. “I made the move from tackle to guard, and playing that 300-pounder to 350, it’s definitely an adjustment. But it’s definitely something I can learn and get better at.”
That’s going to have to be the strategy for Williams – for the time being, at least. Like plenty of other rookies before him, it’s a good bet Williams will benefit from a full offseason in an NFL strength program.
In the meantime, Week 1 was a learning experience, and something to build on.
“Strength comes with time,” Williams said. “It’s not like I’m going to get super strength overnight. So it’s all about technique right now, and learning from my flaws.”