Defensive tackle Nick Williams finally got a chance to play extended reps for the first time in his career last year in Chicago, and the six-year veteran did not disappoint.
Williams played 531 snaps for the Bears last season, more than his previous five seasons combined, and recorded six sacks, including one against the Lions. Detroit took notice and signed him to a free-agent deal this offseason.
Through the first eight padded training camp practices in Detroit, it doesn't look like Williams has skipped a beat from his breakout performance from last year. He led Bears defensive linemen with 42 tackles, six sacks and five tackles for loss in 2019.
Williams has been the most disruptive player upfront for the Lions' defense so far in camp, both in one-on-one and team periods.
"My mindset is not to take my foot off the gas pedal," Williams said. "To keep moving forward and working on things I know can help this team win and work on those things I've been lacking in the past.
"I think just staying on top of my game, keeping that drive, keeping that hunger to want to be a great defensive lineman and to help this team win."
Williams and veteran Danny Shelton are the two new defensive tackles in the middle of a revamped defense that looks very different from a season ago. Shelton is a run stuffer and Williams is more of a penetrator and disruptor. So far in camp, they've looked like they complement each other very well in the interior of Detroit's defensive front.
The Lions are hoping they can affect the quarterback more upfront this season with a healthy Trey Flowers to begin the season, and with additions like Williams and linebackers Jamie Collins Sr. and Reggie Ragland.
View photos from practice during Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Aug. 27, 2020.
"They hungry for it," Williams said of the defensive line group the Lions have assembled this offseason. "We know the record. We know it's a pecking order in the NFC North and we're here to change that this year.
"They're very hungry, very well coached from Bo Davis and we're just ready to go out there and prove to the NFC and the black and blue division that we can play good football – and we can."
The Lions' defense will look very different when they host Williams' former Chicago teammates Week 1 in Detroit. For his part, Williams is set on proving he's not a one-year wonder and he can pick up in Detroit right where he left off in Chicago.