Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
Q: You're obviously still dealing with the injury, how have you been able to function with it and the brace and everything like that?
A: I think the coaches just know that I've been dinged up and struggling with it. They know I want to finish the season, though. I want to finish the season with my team. So, I've obviously been limited throughout the week. I come in for treatment in the morning, stay for treatment after practice and stuff like that. During practice, I'm getting a lot more rotation. Coach is putting me in for things that might be new install or things that I might need to know for the week. If it's something that we've been going over all season, they'll kind of let some of the younger guys fill in the role while I'm trying to rest my arm a little bit. During the game, I just make sure I tape it up, take some Tylenol and stuff like that. Just try to fight through it.
Q: Are you going to need surgery after the season?
A: I don't think so. I think I'm going to be able to just work the small muscles around it, keep getting treatment. Personally, I would like to avoid surgery at all costs, regardless of the injury. That's from personal experience and also from what I've heard around the league from vets when I came in as a younger guy – 'if you can avoid surgery, do it.' It's because I had two shoulder labrum tears in college. One I got surgery on and one I didn't, and I still feel the effects of the one I got surgery on. It feels like every once in a while, it clicks or like the screws that are in there just kind of bother me and stuff like that. Whereas the other one that I tore, I kind of just did a lot of treatment and rehab on it and worked the small muscles that make it stronger and this one feels a lot better now.
Q: One of the things that I've noticed this year is you tend to move around more. Are you doing it more than last year?
A: I'm not sure. I think for a while now I've been a type of D-lineman that moves around a lot because I'm tall and long and rangy. I can play defensive end moved out a little bit and then I can also play on the inside. I think (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Pat (Graham), with so many multiples in his defense, he likes to use me that way. It helps him change up his defense a lot and be comfortable knowing that he can put me anywhere. I've obviously embraced it and I actually like to move around. It helps me play better I think instead of being trapped to one type of play style.
Q: Does it give you an advantage in the sense that you're lining up against different guys and they may not be as well-prepared as if you're going against the same guy all the time?
A: Yeah, I think so. I think it's also harder for offenses to scheme against us if I'm always at the right side of the defense, right 3 technique just all the time – it's like teams are going to know that and possibly have advantages on scheming against me or something like that. The fact that I can play left side, right side, inside, outside, plays a big difference.
Q: You've been at this awhile, this time a year between Christmas and New Year's a lot of teams are gearing up for playoff pushes and things like that. Your teams unfortunately have not been. First off, do you ever get jealous of some of your guys you know around the league who are getting ready for the playoffs and things like that? Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel here, where you can be one of those players in the near future?
A: I would definitely be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of guys knowing that they're going to the playoffs and stuff like that. Especially, I'm finishing up year seven now, so I've obviously been doing this for a quite a while now. With my last team and this team, I haven't been to the playoffs once yet in my career. That's obviously something I'm looking forward to and building towards and striving for. I obviously see hope always, I wouldn't be playing this game still. I'm not doing this game for the money anymore. I want to be great, and I want to win. I definitely see light at the end of the tunnel.
Q: You saw (Former Giants Defensive End) Michael Strahan earlier this year come in and get his number retired and things. His last game was the Super Bowl victory, obviously. Does a player like you kind of let that mull around his mind a little bit, 'man, I wonder if that's ever going to be me some day?' You watch these games when you're done, that's the pinnacle, right? Do you see it out there for you at some point?
A: Yeah, definitely. Especially guys like Strahan, coming to an organization like this being a defensive lineman, there have been so many great defensive linemen that have been through here. Part of their legacy is winning as well. Not only were they great players, but you could look back on the years that they had, and they were also a part of great teams, winning teams, that make their legacy that much better. It helps a guy become more of a legend when he's a part of Super Bowl teams, playoff teams and things like that. I obviously want those guys to look back at their alma mater and know that they have confidence in the guys taking the next step and stuff like that. I definitely want to live up to something like that.
Q: One of your coaches today was talking about you and I was asking about the injury, and he said, 'well, you really can't tell because he's like Superman.' Do you feel like you're showing any of the injury because he was saying he can't see it?
A: I think during the game I have so much adrenaline, especially in the first half. I have so much fight in me that I'm not going to be the type to rollover and like be limping and doing stuff like that. Especially if I'm going to say I'm going to go and I'm going to be out there, I'm going to be out there 100 percent. Even though it's banged up during the week and it's bothering me at nighttime when I'm at home and there are small things where I'm just reaching for something and I feel it and stuff like that. During the game, I know that especially this time of year, it would be rare if there was one player on the field that's not dealing with something like that. It's rare for a player this late in the year, this late in my career at that too, to not be mending or dealing with something throughout the game. I've been trained to fight through pain and adversity, and I want to be out there with my guys.