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Maxx Williams Following Role Models, Ready For Jump In Year 2


As one of the league's youngest players last year, Ravens tight end Maxx Williams leaned on his dad for advice.

Brian Williams played nine seasons as a center for the New York Giants and gave his son many words of wisdom – mostly about keeping his head down, mouth shut and work ethic high.

But it's different hearing from a role model and seeing one (or more) on the field every day.

As a 21-year-old rookie, Williams didn't have a whole lot of experience around him last year. The teams' other tight ends (at least those on the field) were Crockett Gillmore, who was entering his second season, and fellow rookie Nick Boyle.

Now, as Williams enters an important second season, he has plenty of veterans to glean lessons and guidance from. And that, more than anything else, could help Williams take the next step in his development.

Dennis Pitta was a resource in the classroom last year, but now the seven-year veteran and former Super Bowl champion is back on the field. The Ravens also added 13-year veteran Benjamin Watson, who has just about seen it all.

"It really helps having the veterans here; it really gives me a chance to learn from them and see what made them successful," Williams said. "It's nice seeing those guys practice every day so you can take what they have and build off that."

Williams is already building off a very solid rookie season. He set rookie tight end franchise records in receptions (32) and receiving yards (268). Williams scored one touchdown.

One of the Ravens' all-time great tight ends, Todd Heap, posted 16 catches for 206 yards and one touchdown as a rookie. He jumped to 68 catches for 836 yards and six scores in his sophomore year.

That might be a little much to expect of Williams, not because he couldn't do it, but because of opportunity.

Heap became the Ravens' No. 1 and pretty much only receiving tight end in his second season. The fact that Williams has so much talent and so many veterans around him helps him, but will also limit the number of times he sees the ball come his way.

Williams didn't mind that aspect, however.

"My role? Shoot, a lot will happen between now and the first game," Williams said. "What's wrong with having the best tight end group in the NFL, we say? We're going to work to make each other better and figure it out as we're heading into the season."

Still, Williams will be expected to take a step forward this offseason. Part of it is in the weight room. Williams didn't say how much weight he added, but claimed, "I know I got stronger." At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, he could still add some bulk.

But more than anything, Williams thinks his strides will be made on the mental side of being a professional.

"I think it's nice knowing what to expect every day," he said. "Last year, I went into every day not knowing what's going to happen. This year there's a lot of that stress off now that I've been through it. Now it's really about football and focusing on your game to get better every day."

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