ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Mario Williams accepted his second AFC defensive player of the week honor much like he did his first one of the season.
"Just another day to me," the Buffalo defensive end said Wednesday.
Williams' production has been anything but routine this season for someone finally beginning to play to the "Super Mario" expectations that came with the six-year $100 million contract he signed in March 2012.
With 10 sacks through seven games, he's tied for second in the NFL and one short of surpassing his season total of last year.
Calling it "progress," Williams acknowledged this is the best he's felt both mentally and physically since breaking into the NFL in 2006, when he was drafted first overall by Houston.
"I think maybe it's time," Williams said. "I don't know, maybe this is as good a time for me in general as far as my career."
Putting aside the frustrations and criticism that came with his inconsistent production last year, Williams finds himself benefiting from his new multi-purpose role in first-year coordinator Mike Pettine's attacking style of defense.
It's one that has allowed Williams to become a difference-maker in helping Buffalo (3-4) get off to a better-than-expected start in preparing to play at New Orleans (5-1) on Sunday.
Williams has played a key role in two victories.
He had career-best 4 1/2 sacks in a 24-23 win over Carolina on Sept. 15.
Last weekend, Williams had two sacks, his second forcing a fumble that set up Dan Carpenter's game-winning 31-yard field goal with 33 seconds left in a 23-21 win at Miami.
Former safety Rodney Harrison, who is now a broadcaster, has altered his tune on Williams.
"When he's healthy, he is a different player," said Harrison, who criticized Williams for blaming a wrist injury for hindering his performance last year.
On Monday, Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was so impressed by Williams' dominant day that he was began referring to him as a future Hall of Famer.
That might be premature, but Williams has already nudged his way ahead of Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith — the NFL's all-time sacks leader — in a few categories.
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