Posted on Wed, Sep. 20, 2006

[size=13pt]Williams re-emerges as a leader[/size]

Healthy tackle again a force on defense

BY SEAN JENSEN
Pioneer Press


Just two games into this season, Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams has regained his Pro Bowl and all-pro form of 2004.

Williams insists he never lost that form, but he clearly wasn't himself last year, when he was slowed by knee injuries that limited him to 14 games and only four sacks.

Now, in his fourth NFL season, Williams has emerged as a leader, and he is playing at a high level, with 13 tackles, one sack, nine quarterback hurries and two tackles for loss.

In the fourth quarter of Sunday's 16-13 overtime win over the Carolina Panthers, Williams noticed rookie defensive end Ray Edwards upset with himself on the sideline.

"That play was over with, so there's no reason for him to sit there and get down and worry about it," Williams said. "I told him, 'We're going to need you at the end of this game.' We were heading into overtime. He just seemed disappointed with himself. So I told him to pick his head up."

Edwards said he appreciated the encouragement from Williams, a man of few words.

Asked if he feels a need to step up as a leader, Williams said: "Well, with me being one of the older guys in my group, they're going to be looking for someone.

"And I take it upon myself to guide them and lead them the best I can."

As for his conditioning, Williams said he benefited from working out during the offseason and training camp.

"The legs are in shape, and (I'm) not getting in shape during the season," said Williams, who is down to 310 pounds, 10 fewer than his playing weight last year.

Specialists: Linebacker Heath Farwell knew he was a long shot to play regularly on the Vikings' defense. But he felt confident about his chances to make the Vikings' roster from the first day of training camp.

"Since Day One, coach (Brad Childress) talked about how he would save spots for special teams," Farwell recalled. "We're obviously stacked at linebacker, and E.J. (Henderson) is in front of me, and he's unbelievable. So I just wait for an opportunity and make the best of special teams and play hard."

Farwell is tied for the team lead with three special-teams tackles, and he downed a punt inside the 5-yard line Sunday.

Farwell said he's thankful Childress and special-teams coordinator Paul Ferraro appreciate players like him.

"Some people look at just offense or defense," said Farwell, who had 14 special-teams tackles last season. "But a lot of games are won on special teams. A lot of times, it gets overlooked."

Veteran Jason Glenn is in his sixth NFL season, and he recognizes this is his way of keeping a high-paying job.

"That's how my family eats," Glenn said. "With that in mind, you have to make sure that you do your job every day and make as many plays as you can."

Roster moves: The Vikings officially announced that defensive end Erasmus James has been placed on the injured reserve and rookie defensive Jayme Mitchell has been promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.

The Vikings also signed guard C.J. Brooks, who worked out for the club last week, to the practice squad.

Briefly: The Vikings' offense is ranked 13th in the NFL, while the defense is seventh.

• Running back Chester Taylor is sixth in the NFL with 201 rushing yards.

• Troy Williamson is 10th with 179 receiving yards, and he's tied for third with five third-down catches.

• Kicker Ryan Longwell was named NFC special-teams player of the week.

• Less than 200 tickets remain for Sunday's game at the Metrodome against the Chicago Bears. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 651-989-5151.