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Maxx Williams Shows How Far He's Come After Rare Surgery


The fact that Maxx Williams was even back on the field at the start of training camp was a major story.

The third-year tight end was less than a year removed from a complicated knee surgery that no NFL player had ever undergone, and even he admitted that his career was very much in question. Williams didn't look quite like himself at the start of camp, as his movements were jerky and the rust was evident.

But it was a completely different story Thursday night in Miami.

Williams had big night in Baltimore's 31-7 victory, and his 40-yard catch-and-run where he shed tacklers and juked defenders was a statement about how far he's come in the last 10 months.

"That's what we've been looking for from him since we drafted him," Head Coach John Harbaugh said about the former second-round pick. "That was really fun to watch."

Williams had a pair of catches for 48 yards, and he flashed his athleticism on both plays. It's clear that the knee injury isn't hindering him anymore, and he looks like he could step into an important role in the offense.

"It's the best I've felt mentally, just proving to myself that I can get back and play," Williams said. "I'm just taking it day by day. Anything can happen, like I found out early in my career here. So I'm just taking every day, feeling good, and trying to improve every day as best I can."

The knee injury put Williams on the shelf after four games last season, before he even caught a single pass. It was a disappointing encore to a rookie season in which Williams notched 32 catches for 268 yards, the most for a rookie tight end in franchise history.

The Ravens had high hopes for Williams, who they traded up to get in the second round of the 2015 draft, but his knee injury was severe enough to cast a cloud over his NFL future.

Until Williams got back on the field and had a game like he did Thursday night, he would still have those questions swirling in the back of his head.

"You always wonder every day [about your future]," Williams said. "I've been through it. I had major surgery. I'm not going to take anything for granted anymore. I realize how fast something like this can be taken from you and how special it is to be in the NFL."

Williams entered training camp competing for a roster spot, and his development this summer should go a long way in securing his job on the 53-man roster. He could even emerge from a group of tight ends that is looking for someone to separate from the pack.

Williams is still just 23 years old, and he has time to improve. He joked that he needs to pick up his speed so he doesn't get caught on his way to the end zone next time. Williams can work on that speed, but just putting himself in positon to make that big play is a testament to his work behind the scenes since his injury.

"It's a confidence booster, but there are still things to improve on," he said. "I'm just going to keep working the best I can, and whatever happens, happens."

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