LaQuan Williams has been working hard for a night like Thursday.
The former undrafted wide receiver out of Maryland has been fighting the odds for the last three years, but he's known as a gritty player with a tremendous work ethic. Williams is now in the middle of a tight position battle at receiver and he made a strong case for himself with his performance Thursday night.
Williams had two touchdowns, one on a blocked punt and another on a 21-yard touchdown snag in the Ravens' 44-16 victory over the Buccaneers.
"It was relieving; a lot of hard work this summer," Williams said. "Once you work so hard to try to do something and then you see how it pans out, that's why I said it's relieving."
Williams' opportunities have been limited the last two years. He has been low on the depth chart behind players like Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss, and he has primarily been limited to special teams.
But the Baltimore native and University of Maryland product has been a standout on the practice field for the last two years during training camp, and he carried that into game action on Thursday.
"LaQuan played really well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It was good to see him step up and make plays. Here's a guy that just brings his lunch pail every single week. He puts on his blue collar work shirt and goes to work."
Williams' first touchdown came on the blocked punt just before the end of the first half. Rookie safety Brynden Trawick blocked the punt in the end zone, and Williams jumped on the ball for the score.
"It just happened to be close to me and I just tried to get on it and make sure nobody got it away from me," Williams said.
On the touchdown reception, Williams made a fully outstretched catch in the back of the end zone on a pass from quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Williams finished the day with two catches for 32 yards, and he also had another fumble recovery on a muffed punt in the second quarter.
"To see him make those plays – he's got tremendous talent. He flashes a lot," Harbaugh said. "But he made plays with consistency, stacked plays. That was good to see."
Williams is competing for more time at wide receiver after the departure of Boldin this offseason. He's battling with Jones, Doss, Deonte Thompson and David Reed, and he's also just trying to lock down a roster spot.
Thursday's game was a good starting point for Williams in the preseason, and now he's hoping to carry that over into future weeks.
"Every day I come out and play my best," Williams said. "That's what it comes down to. I just want to keep stacking days and hopefully I can solidify my spot on the team. That's why I'm focused right now. I'm trying to solidify my spot on the team."