After a sprained ankle kept Jets Quincy Williams out for the last two weeks, the hard-hitting linebacker returned in the Week 6 game last Sunday against Green Bay with an improved understanding of his role in the defense.
"I had to really just find out," Williams said. "Am I just going to be down about it or am I going to take the best out of this injury? I started really studying the playbook and took the physical part out of it and made it more about the mental part."
Against Green Bay at Lambeau Field, Williams played sideline to sideline accumulating a game-high 14 tackles and attributed the season-high number and dominant performance to the work he did while he was out.
"I felt when I was injured, I got a chance to continue learning a lot more defensively," Williams said. "And then so when I came back, it just a do your job type mentality, make the plays that come to you, and I just felt like I knew a lot more and used it Sunday."
While out, Williams took a deep dive into the defensive game plan. He watched veteran LBs C.J. Mosely and Kwon Alexander closely and spent time extra time with his nose in the playbook.
"Kwon played with [HC Robert] Saleh with the 49ers, so he knows what he's looking for," Williams said. "So, it was good for me to watch him and see what he is looking for."
See the top photos from Wednesday's practice leading up to the Broncos game.
Early in the second half of the Jets' 27-10 win against Green Bay, Williams announced his return with a booming hit on RB Aaron Jones. Williams read a run play perfectly, filled the running lane and delivered a hit that lifted Jones off his feet. Williams flexed and celebrated with his signature uppercut.
"He's having a really nice year and he's only getting better," Saleh said. "He's got a long way to go in terms of not only just the physical part, which we all see, it's the mental part, not only from a playbook standpoint, but he is stacking up great days and remaining consistent day in and day out. He's trending in the right direction and we're excited."
Williams finished with his second-most tackles in a game in his four-year NFL career and played 81% of the snaps. And despite missing time, Williams' 32 tackles in 4 games are third-most (after Mosley and Jordan Whitehead) on the team.
"Last year, he went through a lot of growing pains," Saleh said. "We forced them in there and we were doing everything we could to help him and he's now in his second year and he's been getting better and better."
Before the injury, Williams was off to a strong start in 2022 totaling 18 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack and a QB hit in three starts before sustaining a sprained ankle against Cincinnati. He hopes to continue building on the first three games and last week's performance.
"I have got to keep making improvements," Williams said. "Get an interception, get better in route coverage. I got to keep building on the improvements I have made while I was out and keep up the momentum."