Michael Williams played offensive tackle in a game for the first time in his football career Friday.
“I felt good,” he said after playing 20 snaps as the second-team left tackle in the Lions’ 27-26 loss to the Raiders in Oakland. “I felt real good. I had one mishap, but everything else went fine.”
Williams missed the exhibition opener against the Browns after a minor injury held him out of a few practices, but now he’s back and ready to compete for a roster spot. And even though he’s playing a position he’s never played, Williams said he didn’t need a few plays to feel out his new spot Friday.
“I was ready to go,” he said. “After missing last week and having all that go on, I was ready to go.”
A seventh-round pick in 2013, Williams made the switch from tight end to tackle this offseason under the new coaching staff. He’s listed on the roster at 304 pounds, and with the extra size already added, he has to focus on adjusting his blocking technique.
At Alabama, Williams was a block-first tight end, and Lions Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders said he thought Williams could move to tackle shortly after the draft. Williams, though, missed his entire rookie season with a broken hand and never had a chance to show what he could do as a tight end.
“There was an adjustment period I made a month ago, and we’re still trying to get better at it,” he said.
In addition to facing more one-on-one battles against defensive ends, Williams now has to block from a two-point stance and learn the new offensive playbook at a different position.
“I think Mike is going to be one of those kinds of guys that’s going to be able to help us if he can develop quickly enough,” coach Jim Caldwell said during organized team activities.
In Riley Reiff, LaAdrian Waddle and Corey Hilliard, the Lions have three tackles they think could start. To earn a spot on the 53-man roster, Williams likely has to perform better than undrafted rookie Cornelius Lucas, who has shown flashes of potential in camp.
Williams is aware that it will be difficult to earn a job this season, and he’s not focused on his role just yet.
“First I have to win a role,” he said. “You have to just keep grinding and keep going to practice and keep getting better. And you let that part of it take care of itself.”
And Williams, who would be eligible for the practice squad if cut, said he still has to work on “everything” about playing offense line.
“I’ve been at it, what, three months,” he said. “It doesn’t come that fast. It takes a little time.”