When a player graduates from the challenging unknown of a rookie campaign, things usually begin to slow down. The game itself appears to decelerate, but that old axiom is not the case for Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
"Everything is speeding up for me actually. I don't have to play slow anymore or think as much," he said after a recent training camp practice. "I'm just more comfortable with this defense, more comfortable with my teammates, coaches, the system, everything. It's just a lot faster."
Faster, in this case, is a good thing for the 6'5'', 302-pounder. During the first quarter of the Jets' 17-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday, Williams recorded the team's first summer sack as he wrapped up Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles for a six-yard loss.
"Getting to the quarterback is just about a matter of seconds in this league. That's why I had a lot of QB hits last year, but I wasn't quite getting to the sack," Williams said. "I need to get off the ball and disengage from the offensive linemen as quickly as possible by reading tendencies and stuff like that."
The soft-spoken Williams, who prefers to go by "Leo," wants to turn his team-leading 32 QB hits from last season into more sacks. The No. 6 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft has been working on exploding off the ball with defensive line coach Pepper Johnson.
"Last year I had a lot of hits on the quarterback, but this offseason I've been trying to figure out what makes a difference between a hit and a sack," he said. "Sacks are definitely one of the numbers that I want to increase this year."