Teddy Williams didn't play a down last year, and he was hurt a lot of the time.
But it was not a wasted year.
He said it made him a better pro. Being around Cowboys veterans like Bradie James, Keith Brooking and Terence Newman taught him much about staying focused in the NFL, where he is trying to make it after being a sprinter in college.
"I might have dealt with so much physically, but it didn't hurt me a lot mentally," he said last weekend at the Cowboys' rookie minicamp. "It taught me a lot. It helped me grow up. I got a lot of advice from the older guys who have been through the fire and been through those injury-prone years."
Now Williams hopes it pays off as he tries to make another transition -- from receiver to cornerback.
The Cowboys are going to give the former UTSA track standout another look at corner, hoping he can take advantage of his long frame and speed.
It's a long shot. The 23-year-old from Tyler is far behind in experience, and the Cowboys are stocked at the position -- first-round pick Morris Claiborne, veterans Brandon Carr, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick and first-year player Mario Butler are all ahead of him, not to mention three other undrafted free agents in the mix -- Justin Taplin-Ross, Isaac Madison and Lionel Smith.
"He's got a track background, but different than some track guys, he has a physical mentality playing football," Garrett said. "He just needs to understand how to play football."
Williams knows how he will approach the season. Not only will he put in the physical work, he said, but he will be better prepared mentally because of the lessons from his former teammates.
"If you stay negative, your body will never heal itself," Williams said, thinking about his conversations with Brooking, James, Newman and others. "And I learned that the hard way. I was so hard on myself, I wanted to stay on the field so much, my body wasn't healing the way it should have, and injuries were taking longer to come back from than they should have.
"It's just a learning process. Everything's a learning process around here."
-- Carlos Mendez