Cowboys DE Sam Williams is opening eyes around the league, opening up possibilities for the Dallas defense

Sam Williams led the Cowboys defensive line for the second straight preseason game.

And the rookie makes the most of those opportunities. The Ole Miss product is showing not only why the Cowboys made him a second-round draft pick in April, but also why he belongs in Dan Quinn’s heavy rotation at defensive end in September.

Williams didn’t make much of a difference in Saturday’s scoring, assisting on just two tackles on the night. But he certainly made his presence known, constantly blowing up opposing players and breathing down the quarterback’s neck on seemingly every other play.

One of those pressures forced a rushing throw that was picked off by safety Israel Muquamu.

Sooner or later, Williams knows, the pinnacle will be his. Just 77 games into his professional career, it’s already easier.

“It is, it is,” he told reporters after Saturday’s 32-18 win over the Chargers. “When I watch the movie, I’ll be like, ‘Dang, I should have had that. Dang, I had to have that.’ But you can’t turn back time. I’m just trying to get better and better every day.”

So far, it seems to be working.

The calling card to the 6-foot-4 Williams early in camp was his insane speed. But studying and perfecting his technique every day — with mentors like DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons — helped him add to his rapidly growing toolbox.

In his 33 snaps against Denver, Williams made it a point to try a variety of moves. That impressed NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger.

By Week 2 of the preseason, he was combining speed, power and technique. Baldinger sees room for improvement in the 23-year-old, but he also sees tantalizing possibilities after pairing with other play-wrecking players on the Cowboys’ defensive unit.

“Imagine if Micah comes the other way and Sam Williams has that takeoff on that left tackle,” the former Cowboys lineman said via Twitter. “If you can do that and flush the quarterback, Micah, Odighizuwa, Fowler … somebody’s going to clean up.”

“That right there is going to open some eyes in that film room,” Baldinger continued.

The youngster has Sunday speed and power for days. But he has already understood that this is not enough at this level.

It’s the mental part of the game — the strategic chess match of how to prepare for an opponent all week — that so often determines how effective that speed and power will be.

And that’s what Williams is enjoying as camp draws to a close and the regular season approaches.

“In college, it was easier to know a trend, but now, in the NFL, they change so much depending on who they’re going against,” he explained. “They might come through differently for me than they would for an older guy or a slower guy. I’m trying to find trends, I’m trying to find weakness, but it’s hard because you’re also going up against someone who’s watching film.”

Increasingly, it looks like the Cowboys’ opponents will be forced to watch a lot of film on Sam Williams.

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The story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire

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