Mario Williams has made it clear a nagging left wrist injury has hampered his play.
To what extent, however, is something not even his head coach knows.
“I can’t speak for him. He’s the one that’s got to answer to that,” coach Chan Gailey said Monday. “I can’t tell you whether he’s being affected by it at all, or a little bit, or what it is. I can’t tell.”
But coach, don’t you talk to him about it?
“No. I ask him how it’s going and he says it’s all right.”
Williams has seemingly had more to say about the injury to the media, the latest following Sunday’s 35-34 home loss to the Tennessee Titans.
“I’ve got a lot of hesitation,” he said. “It’s on me. That’s fine. I know I gotta change that. Believe me, I don’t need anybody to tell me that. I look at it just how everybody else does.”
Williams has again come under scrutiny following another pedestrian performance. In 56 defensive snaps against Tennessee, he made just two tackles. Asked after the game whether he thought he was living up to expectations, he became downright defiant.
“I don’t care about your expectations. I don’t care about anybody’s expectations,” he said.
When the question was rephrased to ask Williams whether he thought he was meeting his own expectations, he said: “That’s the thing, no. Like I said, I need to play better and I need to get healthy, it’s No. 1 on my point.
“I can say this and you can take it however you want to take it, but it really don’t matter to me. I really don’t care what you think. At the end of the day I know I need to get physically back into things so I’m not hesitating.”
Williams played 88 percent of the defensive snaps Sunday, and has not missed a practice or a game because of the wrist injury, which was first revealed in the week following the season opener. He has 16 tackles and 3.5 sacks in seven games.
“The impact a guy has on a football team in a lot of people’s eyes are viewed by statistics. We don’t necessarily view those by statistics,” Gailey said. “We view them by what kind of influence and impact the guy has on the game and right now Mario’s having a good impact on the game. Is it great at this point? No, it’s not great. But he’s having good impact on the game.”
Williams’ teammates aren’t sure – or at least aren’t saying – how much they think his performance is being affected by the injury.
“It’s obviously bothering him. He’s come out and said that. Guys play with injuries all the time. Especially, you get into the middle portion of the season and as the season wears on, you get bumps and bruises, just the wear and tear of the season, you’ve got to fight through that,” fellow defensive end Chris Kelsay said. ‘You’ve got to take care of guys during the week through preparation and being smart but … um … Mario knows what’s going on. I’m not questioning whether or not his wrist is bothering him. It’s obviously bothering him. He says that. But we’ve got to find a way to get that healthy, and this is a good time for him maybe, you know?”
The bye week does indeed seem to be coming at a favorable time for Williams, both mentally and physically. He’s been in the spotlight since signing a six-year contract in the offseason that guaranteed him at least $50 million, the richest pact for a defensive player in NFL history.
“Most players that are high-profile players get singled out one way or the other, either positively or negatively each week depending on how the team does,” Gailey said. “And that’s the bottom line.”
Williams was asked about his confidence in coordinator Dave Wannstedt’s scheme. His endorsement was less than ringing.
“I believe that at the end of the day whenever you’re told to do something, you go out and do it,” he said. “It’s not necessarily what’s going on in the scheme. I mean, it’s gap sound. It’s fitting the gaps. That’s across the board. It’s every player getting in trouble with that.”
Gailey on Monday said right guard Chad Rinehart suffered a long-term ankle injury, but stopped short of calling it season-ending until more tests are performed today. ... The Bills will hold practice Wednesday before breaking for the bye week.