Bills DT Williams playing big role in middle

Kyle Williams wears a smile on his face as big as the chip on

his shoulder for every time someone has told the Buffalo Bills

defensive tackle he’s too small to play in the NFL.

Not that he listens to his critics, of course.

”If I heard it, I didn’t care. And other than that, I didn’t

pay attention to it,” Williams said Wednesday. ”But according to

everybody, I should probably be home doing something else.”

He’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Comparatively undersized at 6-foot-1 and 306 pounds, and largely

underappreciated, Williams has been the defense’s most consistent

player as the Bills (3-10) prepare to close out the season with

three straight games against AFC East rivals, starting at Miami

(7-6) on Sunday.

Williams leads Buffalo with five sacks to rank in a tie for

sixth among NFL players at his position. He’s also been credited

with a league-leading 65 tackles among defensive linemen.

The production is not new for Williams, who’s been a starter

ever since the Bills selected him in the fifth round of the 2006

draft out of LSU. What’s different, is how well he’s performed for

someone regarded as being too small to play the position and the

additional physical demands that came with Buffalo switching to a

3-4 scheme this offseason.

It wasn’t the first time Williams has been discounted.

”When I got here, I wasn’t supposed to be able to do this or do

that,” Williams said. ”And yet nobody ever sent me the memo that

I couldn’t do it.”

Williams’ five sacks are a career high – one more than he had

last year – to give him 13 for his career. His best game came in a

19-16 overtime loss against Pittsburgh three weeks ago, when he was

credited with 10 tackles and two sacks.

He then played an effective role in a 13-6 win over Cleveland

last weekend. Williams recovered a fumble and helped Buffalo limit

the Browns to 187 yards offense.

Center Geoff Hangartner never doubted Williams’ ability,

especially after having to go up against him in practice for the

past two seasons.

”All I know is he makes training camp really difficult,”

Hangartner said, noting Williams makes up for his lack of size by

understanding how to leverage himself against heftier opponents.

”Some guys, you can get away with leaning on them or being in a

bad position. But if you’re in a bad position with him, he’s going

to toss you. I’ve never played against a guy who’s got as good an


The Bills defense remains a work in progress. It’s banged up and

still inconsistent against the run in having allowed 200 yards

rushing six times. Despite its deficiencies, the unit is showing

signs of jelling. After allowing 198 points in its first six games,

all losses, Buffalo’s allowed just 141 in going 3-4 in its last


Takeaways are also on the rise, as the Bills have forced 13

turnovers (five fumbles and eight interceptions) in their past six

games, after managing just six (five fumbles, one interception) in

their first seven.

”It takes time to understand exactly how everybody fits in the

scheme and what everybody does best,” coach Chan Gailey said,

referring to the unit’s marked improvement. ”I think everybody has

a much better understanding of what we’re trying to do on Sundays


Williams has been a good fit all season.

”There’s no way to put in words what a guy like that means to

your team,” Gailey said. ”There’s no way to put a value on


Though unhappy with the team’s record, Williams is pleased with

his performance.

”I think there’s a satisfaction in knowing that you’re doing

your job,” he said, ”and you know that your teammates can count

on you.”

As for his critics, well, that’s another story. He’s paid no

heed to the so-called experts ever since college, when LSU was

dismissed from having a chance beat Oklahoma in the national

championship game in 2004.

”Oklahoma was supposed to be the greatest football team ever in

college, and we played them and dominated that game,” Williams

said, recalling the Tigers’ 21-14 win. ”Everything on paper isn’t

always fact. I can promise you that.”