Maxx Williams didn't find too many positives in his sophomore season.
The Ravens tight end had a limited impact before a nagging knee injury landed him on injured reserve after four games. Williams' 2017 season essentially amounted to a lost year, and now he's working his way back to the field.
"Who wants to sit out a whole season? I'm ready to get back," Williams said after a recent workout. "The positive is that I don't have to worry about [the knee] anymore because we took care of it. But it sucks right now watching them practice and not being able to."
Williams isn't practicing yet, but Head Coach John Harbaugh said the expectation is for him to return in training camp. He's about eight months removed from a complicated knee surgery, which Harbaugh said had never before been performed on a football player.
"There has to be a first for everything," Williams said. "There was someone who had the first ACL surgery, so I take it for what it is and have to prove to everyone I can come back."
The injury was eye opening for the 2015 second-round pick. Instead of building off a strong rookie season in which he caught 32 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown (the best production by a rookie tight end in franchise history), Williams was stuck watching games on the couch wondering how his knee would respond to the procedure.
Doctors deemed the surgery a success, but Williams still had a long road back to the field.
"It gave me a chance to kind of reflect on things and see how fast things can be taken from you," he said. "But it was still a year out of football. It's not college, you're not supposed to have a redshirt year. You're supposed to play football."
Williams has been a mainstay at the Under Armour Performance Center throughout his rehab this offseason. Even though he still has to cross the final hurdle of returning to the field, Williams can already tell a difference in his knee.
"We took care of it because everything was hurting and obviously I had a problem. Now I feel great," he said. "Now I just have to work myself back into it and get cleared."
As soon as Williams returns, he'll be thrown into an intriguing competition. The Ravens have six tight ends on the roster, and all of them bring something different. Williams, Dennis Pitta, Benjamin Watson, Nick Boyle, Darren Waller and Crockett Gillmore will compete for playing time and roster spots, and Williams is eager to show what he can do.
"It will make all of us better and whatever happens, happens," Williams said. "I'm confident in myself. I think that's all you have to worry about. I don't worry about what every else is saying outside in the media. I know who I am. I know what I want to do. I know what kind of person I am, and I'm going to work as hard as I can."