Friday, May 1, 2009

Asked and answered: Charlie Williams, UNC wide receivers coach

Here's the full Q&A with Charlie Williams, who coached Patriots draftee Brandon Tate at North Carolina:

What were your first impressions of Brandon?
"What I saw was he was a dang good punt returner and kick returner. Once he started playing receiver, though, I was excited because we had three receivers who all did something different and something special.

(Hakeem Nicks was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants; Brooks Foster was drafted in the fifth round by the St. Louis Rams.)

"What he does is when he has the ball in his hands, he knows what to do with it. He knows how to catch the ball and run with it after the catch. He knows how to get a release and get downfield in a hurry. He can stick his foot in the ground and make that first guy miss, as well."

What is it that makes him such a dangerous kick returner?
"He has a feel for it. You have to have a feel for it. What we had to do was, after his junior year, we looked at all the tapes, and we needed him to stay with the return. He tried to deviate a lot of times. We got penalties because guys were going one way and he was going another. Once we got him to do that, he just set the world on fire."

Was he a guy who outran his blockers sometimes, too?
"He could do that, too. If there was a crease, he was going to hit that crease. That's what he did well: When he got in the open field, it was hard for people to make the play."

What does he have to do to contribute as a wide receiver in the NFL?
"All of them are going to have to learn how to adjust to the NFL game? What they'll see is a lot more press coverage in the league. It'll be hard for them to line up against press. Brandon was always an inside receiver for us; it would be a mismatch if they put a linebacker on him, and it would be a mismatch if it was a safety."

How does he adjust to the press coverage?
"He has good enough feet. He has good enough shake that he can get away from you. He has to use his hands, but he'll learn to do that well."

Does he compare to anyone you saw in the NFL when you were the wide receivers coach with the Buccaneers?
"He has the speed and quicks and can get off the line like Reidel Anthony got off the line. He has the shakes like Jacquez Green had to make the first guy miss -- and make the second guy miss."

Is playing next year a reasonable goal for him based on where he is in his rehab?
"Oh, yeah, no doubt. I know they'll rehab him and rehab him. If he's ready to play this year, where he'll help the is on special teams. I'm not saying he can't help them as a receiver, but if all they're asking him to do is punt returns and kick returns, he can help them."

Is he excited about the opportunity that's been created with the trade of Ellis Hobbs as a kick returner?
"Yeah. He's excited about the whole opportunity, No. 1. He's excited because he knows the Patriots are a playoff team and a Super Bowl-winning team. That's their goal, to get back to that point. He's just excited to have that opportunity."

Does he specifically want to contribute at receiver, or would he be happy just being a return guy?
"He wants to do it all. He can do it all. He knows he can help the team. They have great receivers on that team, and all he's going to do is add to it."

Speaking of those receivers, does he compare with Wes Welker at all?
"The thing Wes Welker does is that he gets open and he catches the ball. Brandon will get open and he'll catch the ball, and he's going to run after the catch. That's the part you need in the league: You've got to have some yards after the catch."

How did he approach his rehab?
"Let me just say this: It was hard on him. It was the first time he's really seriously been injured. It was hard on him. Now all that waiting game, that whole deal is over. They know they're going to get him up there and get after him in his rehab. The harder he works, the faster he recovers and gets on that field. What he wants to do is get on that field. When he sees his other buddies on the field with their teams, that's only going to make him more hungry."

What were his expectations for the draft?
"He realized that before the injury he was heading in the right direction and would have been among that top group of receivers drafted in the first round. After the injury, all he was hoping for was to get drafted."

What's he going to do during the rookie camps and training camps?
"It's all about doing the rehab. Minicamp is this weekend, but his whole deal at minicamp will be rehab. They'll be getting on a schedule and getting him on a program to rehab."

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