SAN FRANCISCO –- Dan Williams expects to be a Raider for some time. The 28-year old nose tackle is signed through the 2018 season, and hopes to play out that contract with a team he has grown to love.
That has Williams thinking big picture following a 7-9 season he considers a disappointment. It was four wins better than the year before, which prompted upheaval throughout the roster and the coaching staff. In Williams’ mind, it wasn’t good enough.
“To me, 7-9 doesn’t represent the strides that were made last season,” Williams told CSNCalifornia.com on Wednesday. "We took a lot of big steps forward, and we had a lot of guys finish the year saying we were better than what our record showed. We felt like we should’ve been playing in January, but we let a lot of games get away from us.
“On the flip side, I think 7-9 is going to make us a lot hungrier next season, feeling that we need to prove something.”
In order to get there, the Raiders defense needs a talent infusion and new sources of leadership with Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck retiring. Williams thinks he can help guide this defense toward better days.
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Williams is currently the defensive line’s elder statesman, and he believes that comes with added responsibility.
“I feel like I took on a little bit of a leadership role last year, after Justin Tuck got hurt,” Williams said. “The key to being a good leader is being consistent, being a good example and being available to share the knowledge I have.
“I may not have the experience that Tuck or Charles Woodson has, but I’ve been through a lot. I’m the oldest guy in the room, now. I just finished my sixth year, but I’ve been through coaching changes and scheme changes and I can share the lessons I’ve learned. I believe I can help this team find answers.”
Williams was a steady producer in his first season with the Raiders, totaling 48 tackles and a sack. He was a solid interior run stopper with pocket collapsing capability.
Being a leader is a change for Williams. He cut teeth with Arizona, and remembers well being the new kid on campus.
“It sure happens fast,” Williams said. “You’d want to stay a young guy forever, but it’s a good thing in a lot of ways because it means you’re playing a long time and you’ve established yourself in the league. I take it in stride, and I like my new role. It’s like going from a freshman to a senior. Everybody has their role, and I’m going to fill mine.”