OXNARD, Calif. – Terrance Williams will talk if you ask him to, but it's fairly obvious he doesn't want to.
Giving an interview defeats the purpose of Williams's 2016 campaign slogan, which is pretty simple – don't talk about it, be about it.
"I can't keep coming out here, keep saying the same things and keep talking about the same things," he said. "I've got to show up to work and do it and let my play speak for itself."
Williams is doing that to this point in the preseason. He tallied just one catch in the Cowboys' loss to the Rams on Saturday night, but what a catch it was – a 32-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown after shaking his coverage with a double-move.
"It's my job to win the one-on-one coverages," Williams said simply.
That's about as straightforward a job description as one could ask for, and it has helped define Williams' career – for both good and bad. In three seasons, he has made defenses pay on plenty of occasions for focusing too much attention on Dez Bryant. The tip-toe catch in Seattle and his three playoff touchdowns all spring to mind.
The former third-round pick has also drawn harsh criticism for inconsistency. He disappeared from the stat sheet for long stretches during that 2014 season. Then, with Bryant missing from the lineup for much of 2015, Williams averaged just three receptions per game – albeit working mainly with backup quarterbacks.
"Those type of seasons don't make or break you, you know? It's just how good can you come back," Williams said. "That was just the whole key – was just coming back strong and not letting my guys down."
Williams said on Monday that he felt like he let his teammates down last year, mentioning fellow wide outs Bryant and Cole Beasley by name. He said more so than anything he doesn't want to go back to feeling that way.
Whatever the outside world might think, though, you're not likely to hear criticisms from within the Cowboys' camp. Following the game on Saturday night, Bryant was emphatic in his praise for the younger wide out, saying that he's seen a noticeable change in Williams' approach this year.
"Terrance – his mind is on a whole, totally different level. Something outstanding got into his brain," Bryant said. "He wants to be a playmaker – which, he is a playmaker. He's tired of all the critics, and he's showing everybody what it is."
Compliments like that have got to register with Williams, who has long credited Bryant as the emotional spark plug of the wide receiver corps.
"I really think, with those guys, you always have to be on edge – because if Dez thinks you're not on edge, he's going to let you know," he said. "You really have to take things seriously when you come out here."
It's safe to say Williams is doing that in his fourth year. When he stopped to talk to reporters on Monday evening, he was short of breath even though practiced had ended 20 minutes before. The reason was the extra time he stayed on the field, working with team assistants on drills to improve his hands.
And the work extends to things beyond getting open and catching passes. Asked about Williams' play in the Rams game last weekend, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spent just as much time raving about his work as a blocker than anything he did as a receiver.
"He had a sequence in the game the other day we had a run, if you remember, toward our sidelines, it was the 17th offensive play of the game and Terrance did a fantastic job of blocking down the field. It was a 10 or 11 yard run we had," Garrett said.
"Then on the next play he lined up on the left-hand side and ran the double-move for the touchdown. To me, it was a great illustration of what he's all about, doing the dirty work, making as good of a block as you'll ever see a receiver make in the National Football League and coming back and doing the other stuff he's paid to do."
All of this is encouraging when remembering that Williams is entering a contract year. Given everything that's been outlined above, it'll be interesting to see how he builds on the progress he's made – especially when considering whether the Cowboys will try to bring him back in 2017.
Asked if that mattered to him, Williams deferred to that same mantra.
"That really doesn't matter, because then I'll start doing stuff that I'm not used to doing," he said. "I'm focused on getting better, day in and day out and being the guy that they brought me here – that they drafted me to be here."
If he pulls that off in 2016, then his play really will speak for itself. As Williams prepares to kick off his fourth season in Dallas, that's certainly the hope.
"I can't keep talking about it," he said. "I have to come out here and keep working at it, keep working at it, keep working at it until it becomes second nature."