Bills' Mario Williams targets Sunday return after surgery
Defensive end already feels better range of motion in left hand
The surgery Mario Williams had to fix his sprained left wrist appears to have also done plenty in repairing the Buffalo Bills' high-priced defensive end's self-confidence.
Williams was in an upbeat mood Monday in discussing how much better he felt physically and mentally after rejoining the Bills following the team's bye week off, and six days after having arthroscopic surgery in Alabama.
"Nobody wants me to do better than me. So definitely, with this procedure, it's definitely given me a lot of hope and a different mindset," he said. "I feel like I was stagnant. That's why I'm very excited to have been able to go clean it out and being optimistic about things."
And that includes the NFL's highest-paid defensive player declaring himself ready to play on Sunday, when the Bills (3-4) travel to play the Houston Texans (6-1), Williams' former team.
"Oh, I'm definitely, definitely (playing). I'm not missing anything," he said. "It uplifts me tremendously. … I'm definitely excited. This is a great week."
Williams returned to Buffalo on Sunday, when he visited the team's facility for treatment.
He was held out of practice on Monday with coach Chan Gailey saying the plan is for Williams to be back on the field for Wednesday's session.
"I talked to him, and he sounded very encouraged," Gailey said. "Hopefully, he doesn't miss a beat."
The injury had nagged Williams since he was hurt in the final week of the pre-season in what he called "a little freak deal." Williams said the initial prognosis was for the injury to take four to six weeks to heal.
When it became apparent his wrist wasn't getting any better, Williams said he elected to have surgery after consulting with the team's training staff, and after being assured he shouldn't miss any playing time.
Though feeling a little discomfort where the doctor made two incisions, Williams called the operation a success because he's already noticed an increased range of motion in his wrist. He'll continue to wear a protective cast during games, but Williams believes the surgery will make it easier to use his hands to shed blockers.
He added that the injury was also limiting his ability to lift weights and maintain his upper body strength, something he also relies upon as a pass-rusher.
"I'm a hands-on person, and everything I do is with my hands and working out," he said. "And not being able to do that, mentally, has just been frustrating."
Selected first overall by Houston in the 2006 draft, Williams had 53 career sacks in six seasons to set the Texans franchise record. Three days into free agency in March, signed a six-year, $100 million US contract with Buffalo.
Target of blame
A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Williams has managed just 3 1/2 sacks and become the target of much of the blame for the Bills' defensive woes this season. Buffalo ranks 31st in the NFL in yards allowed and last against the run. That includes a four-game stretch in which the Bills have gone 1-3 and allowed 937 yards rushing.
Following a 35-34 loss to Tennessee on Oct. 21, veteran defensive end Chris Kelsay went public with his frustrations by questioning his teammates for taking plays off.
Williams acknowledged he's played below his own expectations.
"The biggest thing for me is that I know there's definitely a lot more pays that I have to get done," Williams said. "I feel great about the possibility of finally being able to get to do things I didn't do from the very beginning of the season. And I look forward to it."
Kelsay was encouraged to hear Williams was feeling better.
"It'll be great for us. He's a heck of a player," Kelsay said. "It's good that he was able to take advantage of the bye and get healthy. So we're all looking forward to that."