Chargers embrace the Mike Williams era

Los Angeles Chargers rookie wide receiver Mike Williams made his season debut with one catch against the Oakland Raiders. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

So what’s a bigger story this week for the Los Angeles Chargers? Facing AFC Division rival Denver Broncos? Earning a must-win road game in the Black Hole against the Oakland Raiders? Or that wide receiver Mike Williams made his official season debut? All of the above matter to Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and the Chargers.

After a slow start…well an 0-4 start to begin the season, the Chargers have managed to scrap and fight their way to two straight wins, including knocking off the Raiders in their backyard.

“I will tell you it took all three phases to win that game,” Lynn said after the Chargers pulled off their 17-16 victory. “I thought the guys stepped up and made plays when they had to, and that is what we have been talking about. I am so proud that they are starting to see the fruits of their labor because these men work hard every single week, and they go out and they compete, and they just keep coming. Just keep coming. I’m glad it’s paying off.”

Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams after being drafted by the team. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

Getting a third consecutive win will be a stern challenge for Lynn and his team. But then again, every game of the season is a challenge. What might make the task a bit easier from an offensive perspective is having Mike Williams, the Chargers prized rookie wide receiver, on the field. With the Broncos riding into town with their physical secondary, including cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, the Chargers’ offensive unit is going up against a stern test.

Wideouts Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and tight end Hunter Henry will probably get the bulk of touches. But having the 6-foot-4, 220 pound Williams ready to have his number called could allow the former Clemson star to create matchup problems for Denver. At worst, his ability to stretch the field should open up some spots for quarterback Philip Rivers to do work in. As it is, it may still be some time before Williams hit his stride.

Against the Raiders, Williams made his first official NFL grab, a 15-yard catch from Rivers. It would be Williams’ only catch of the game, but he appeared to have made a great first impression on Lynn.

“He had the one catch, and it was a nice catch, but I thought he played fine,” Lynn said.”We’ll watch the tape. Like I said, he only had like nine or ten snaps.”

Lynn wasn’t the only person waiting to see what Williams could do on the field when it mattered. Rivers had high praise for his young wide receiver.

Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams (7) became the overall No. 7 selection in the 2017 NFL Draft when the Los Angeles Chargers picked him up. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

“All week we’ve been trying to sprinkle him in there and everyone was quiet all week on how much we thought he was going to play,” Rivers said. “We wanted to sprinkle him in some and let him ease his way in and he knew there if he got his own coverage he was going to have a chance to be the primary guy on the end route and he did a nice job. He had a couple other nice end routes and other things he was in there on. It was exciting…his first catch, getting action in [a] division game on the road.”

Speaking from the Chargers practice facility in Costa Mesa, California, Williams, who missed all of training camp, preseason, as well as the first five game of the regular season,  said it was good to be back on the field as a contributor.

“It felt good, just to get back out there with my teammates for the first time, just to get that first game in, the first catch out of the window felt good,” Williams said.

Williams admitted he was a bit skittish in his professional debut.

“A little nervous,” said Williams. “It was fun.”

As happy as he was about getting in the game against Oakland and recording the first catch of his professional football career, Williams is even more excited that the Chargers have been able to string together a couple of wins.

“That’s what we gotta do; just find ways to win,” said Williams. “Had a lot of close games We’ve been able to find ways to win these last two weeks…just finding ways to win.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1138 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.

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