Minnesota defensive tackle Kevin Williams said making Pro Bowls is rewarding, but in a training camp interview with The Oklahoman, the former Oklahoma State star said his focus was helping the Vikings return to the playoffs.
It seemed far-fetched. Coming off a 3-13 season, the Vikings were the consensus pick to finish last in the NFC North.
“Nobody outside this locker room believed in us except us,” Williams said. “We stuck to our guns and got it done. We feel we left a couple of games out there we could have won. But we did enough to get in. Hopefully we're on roll.”
Minnesota on Saturday will play the Packers a third time this season. The Vikings posted a 37-34 win last Sunday just to get in the playoffs. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns.
“We've got to play a lot better on defense,” said Williams, a six-time Pro Bowler. “It was a shootout, but we were able to hang on. (Rodgers) throws a great ball into tight windows. He presents a lot of challenges. We have to get pressure on him.”
The Vikings counter with Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 2,097 yards, nine shy of Eric Dickerson's record.
“There's never been anybody who has done the things he's been doing this year,” Williams said. “When (quarterback) Christian (Ponder) was struggling early, he put the offense on his back. He carried the offense even though people were gearing up to stop him.”
This is the fourth time in Williams' eight seasons Minnesota has made the playoffs but the first time since 2009, when the Vikings lost to New Orleans in the NFC title game.
“Playoffs don't come by every year,” Williams said. “You never know when you might get back. You have to take advantage and try to make hay. We're not satisfied just getting in. We know what we're capable of. We've got to take care of business.”
GRESHAM A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE
If the Houston Texans double team Cincinnati Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green, former OU tight end Jermaine Gresham could be a viable alternative for Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
In his third season, Gresham, a first-round draft pick in 2010, posted career highs for receptions (64) and receiving yards (737). The Ardmore product scored five touchdowns.
Former OSU quarterback Zac Robinson, who is on the Bengals' practice squad, is in his second season with Cincinnati after being on the Seahawks and Lions practice squads. ... Former Central Oklahoma tight end/long snapper Bryce Davis also is on the Bengals' practice squad. ... Former OU assistant coach Jonathan Hays is the Bengals tight ends coach.