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Miami Dolphins: If Preston Williams looks this good now, what happens when he's 100%?

The Palm Beach Post logo The Palm Beach Post 9/8/2020 Hal Habib, Palm Beach Post
a man on a football field: Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams at training camp. © ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams at training camp.

To hear receiver Preston Williams tell it, maybe the New England Patriots should be glad they’re facing the Dolphins in Week 1.

Because as good as Williams has looked this training camp — and he has looked plenty good — he admitted Tuesday he still has a final few steps to go in his comeback from last year’s torn ACL.

“It really doesn’t feel good until a year after your injury,” said Williams, who was hurt Nov. 3 against the Jets. “That’s when it really feels normal again. I know what happened. I know I’m still 10 months out. I can feel it. But I’m used to feeling like this.”

a person on a football field: Dolphins receiver Preston Williams gave fans a hint of what was to come during the 2019 preseason. © BRYANN ANDERSON/AP Dolphins receiver Preston Williams gave fans a hint of what was to come during the 2019 preseason.

If you didn’t know that Williams missed half of his rookie season after undergoing knee surgery, you never would guess it from his performances in this camp. He has moved well, shown ability to cut on his routes and consistently given Miami’s secondary trouble.

An occasional rest day, as the Dolphins continue to work him back to 100 percent, is the only hint of what occurred last season. Maybe that’s just being cautious in August; maybe it will result in Williams being on a snap count Sunday.

“When my number's called, I just try to perform,” he said. “If it is a certain amount of reps, it's going to be my best reps. If I play the whole game, I'll play the whole game."

Williams said suiting up in Week 1 was a realistic goal dating back to the time of the injury.

"That was definitely in my head,” he said. “If it didn't happen, then in my head I probably didn't work hard enough. I was preparing for Week 1, worked my butt off and we're here this week."

One year ago, Williams was an intriguing, 6-foot-5 rookie out of Colorado State whose off-field behavior caused him to go undrafted despite monster 2018 statistics: 96 receptions, 1,345 yards and 14 touchdowns. It was evident almost from the start that the Dolphins’ gamble would pay off better than they had a right to expect. Williams caught four passes for 63 yards (a 15.8 average) in only his second NFL game — against the Patriots.

a baseball player pitching a ball on a field: Dolphins receiver Preston Williams isn't sure if his snaps will be budgeted Sunday. © JEFF ROMANCE/The Palm Beach Post Dolphins receiver Preston Williams isn't sure if his snaps will be budgeted Sunday.

He appeared in only eight games but was on pace to make 64 receptions for 856 yards, which would rank among the best rookie receiving performances in team history.

Williams painted a picture of a vastly improved player this year, starting with his ability to read defenses and anticipate what’s going to happen.

“Coach told me I need to have a better jump from year one to year two,” he said. “I've just been focusing, trying to improve my game, learn more positions. This year, there's probably a lot more on the plate. Trying to manage everything, since I was a rookie last year, still getting my feet wet."

The Dolphins have a new offensive coordinator, veteran Chan Gailey, whose system has positive reviews from receivers. They appreciate that Gailey demands they hit an assigned spot on their routes but also gives them freedom to make whatever adjustments necessary to reach that point. More often than not, Williams has gotten there. So has the ball.

More: Miami Dolphins: ‘Long-term' view could sideline Xavien Howard vs. Patriots

“Some days he looks great and other days you could tell he wasn’t 100 percent,” Gailey said. “But there were more really good days than the bad days. We tried to rest him, and I think he’s in a really good place going into the first ballgame.”

Recognizing that his opposite number, DeVante Parker, has had issues of his own avoiding injuries, Williams says he's confident that given a full season together, they can form a dominant tandem.

"We stay healthy, a lot of the numbers are going to speak for themselves,” Williams said.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Miami Dolphins: If Preston Williams looks this good now, what happens when he's 100%?

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