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Latest News in Williams, AZ

Arizona Cardinals' Darrel Williams aims for key role at running back

Darrel Williams was the Kansas City Chiefs' leading rusher last season and amassed more than 1,000 yards of rushing and receiving yards combined. Yet according to him, Kansas City didn't make him an offer and allowed him to become a free agent.He was asked about facing his old team in Week 1 of the regular season, when Williams, now an Arizona Cardinal after signing a one-year contract in the offseason, joins his new teammates in the regular season opener at home against Kansas City on Sept. 11."Really excit...

Darrel Williams was the Kansas City Chiefs' leading rusher last season and amassed more than 1,000 yards of rushing and receiving yards combined. Yet according to him, Kansas City didn't make him an offer and allowed him to become a free agent.

He was asked about facing his old team in Week 1 of the regular season, when Williams, now an Arizona Cardinal after signing a one-year contract in the offseason, joins his new teammates in the regular season opener at home against Kansas City on Sept. 11.

"Really exciting. I can't wait," Williams said this week at training camp. He did not take part in the team's practice on Saturday at State Farm Stadium.

Williams said he signed with Cardinals because he likes the way the team uses its running backs. The Cardinals run the ball, but also like the backs to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield and make plays in the passing game.

"Whatever I've got to do, whatever the coaches need me to do, you know, I'll fit in whatever offense you put me in. Just give me the ball and I'm going to make something happen," Williams said.

With James Conner set to be the lead back, the competition in camp is for lesser roles. If head coach Kliff Kingsbury decides to keep four running backs on the active roster as he has talked about in the past, the top candidates could be Williams, Eno Benjamin and Jonathan Ward, all with NFL experience. But there are three rookies —Keaontay Ingram, Ronnie Rivers and T.J. Pledger — who have been pushing those four.

"Pretty much every guy we've got that I've seen with my own eyes, they can play in the league. Every single one," Williams said. "Everybody being able to do everything, and not just one particular thing. It's good to have competition. Me personally, I feel like it brings the best out in me."

Williams, who has played in seven career postseason games and got a Super Bowl ring with Kansas City, said he's "extremely blessed" to have had Patrick Mahomes and now Kyler Murray as the quarterbacks he's played with in his career.

"Just knowing what it takes to get there, yeah, I can bring that energy to the locker room," Williams said.

Red & White practice mania

The Cardinals on Friday announced that all of the free tickets made available online for Saturday's public practice were distributed, creating a lively atmosphere with a crowd of 18,000 fans at State Farm Stadium.

Players took the field through the corner of the end zone from which they run out on game days amid bursts of steam. Owner Michael Bidwill presented the team's four 2021 Pro Bowlers — Murray, Conner, tackle D.J. Humphries and safety Budda Baker —with framed jerseys from the NFL all-star game, and fans waved flags and cheered during practice.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey greeted players on the sideline during practice. Murray stayed long after practice to sign autographs, drawing cheers and screams from fans after jogging from one sideline across the field to the other.

Cardinals injury updates

Kingsbury had a lengthy list of Cardinals players dealing with injury, though most appear minor in nature. After saying earlier in the week that the time was taking is slow with center Rodney Hudson in training camp, Kingsbury said Hudson has been dealing with a knee injury but could be practicing as soon as Monday after the team gets Sunday off.

The team hopes to ramp up wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown next week, with Brown coming off a low-level hamstring injury and not having fully practiced in camp.

Brown took part practice Saturday but was not involved in every drill.

Cornerback Marco Wilson has a groin injury and Kingsbury hopes to get him back in practice on Monday if he can be cleared by trainers. Tight end Trey McBride is expected to return from a back injury next week, and linebacker Markus Golden is dealing with a toe injury that has caused him to miss recent practice time.

Golden watched from the sideline Saturday. Wilson and McBride did some running on the side before practice officially began.

Defensive lineman Kingsley Keke, who left Thursday's practice early, is in COVID protocol, the only player currently dealing with the virus, Kingsbury said.

Cornerback cooking

Kingsbury had at least one player wearing what looked like oven mitts in Friday's practice, to teach defensive backs in pass coverage to keep their hands off receivers in hopes of avoiding a penalty.

It wasn't new to Kingsbury, who recalled when he was in New England and defensive backs had tennis balls taped to their hands to avoid grabbing a receiver.

"We picked out the culprits that have been egregious. We just don't want to get guys hurt. We can't be grabbing jerseys and pulling guys down. We need everybody, and so just one of those deals to try to get them out of the habit of doing that," Kingsbury said. "It hadn't been this bad. Had some near injuries and we just wanted to get it cleaned up."

Wide receiver Rondale Moore said he was excited to see mitts on an opponent, recognizing that it was likely harder for the defensive player than for him.

"They’ve got five yards to do whatever they want. After that, you’ll get some tugs here and there but noting too extravagant, hopefully," Moore said.

Quick out

• Offensive line coach and run game coordinator Sean Kugler said Sean Harlow is currently the Cardinals' backup center. Harlow has seen extensive work there with the No. 1 offense, with Hudson not having practiced much. The team is trying to develop rookie sixth-round draft pick Lecitus Smith at center.

Get in touch with Jose Romero at Jose.Romero@gannett.com. Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.

UCLA Men's Basketball Makes Class of 2023 Wing Cody Williams' Top 8

The Bruins are officially still in the running for one of the West's top wings.Class of 2023 small forward Cody Williams announced his top eight finalists on Thursday, including UCLA men's basketball among the contenders. USC, LSU, Georgia Tech, LMU, Santa Clara, Colorado and Arizona are the other programs still vying for the Perry (AZ) product's impending commitment.Williams also had offers from Arizona State, Cal, Grand Canyon, Murray State, Nevada, Pepperdine, Portland State, Santa Clara, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, U...

The Bruins are officially still in the running for one of the West's top wings.

Class of 2023 small forward Cody Williams announced his top eight finalists on Thursday, including UCLA men's basketball among the contenders. USC, LSU, Georgia Tech, LMU, Santa Clara, Colorado and Arizona are the other programs still vying for the Perry (AZ) product's impending commitment.

Williams also had offers from Arizona State, Cal, Grand Canyon, Murray State, Nevada, Pepperdine, Portland State, Santa Clara, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, UC Santa Barbara and Washington State.

UCLA gave Williams an in-home recruiting visit in April, and they offered him in June.

The Bruins had been watching Williams in person since the first evaluation periods of the year and, according to 247Sports' Bruin Report Online, coach Mick Cronin and his staff were at every one of his games at the Section 7 Team Camp in June. Earlier that month, Williams starred at the Pangos All-American Camp in Las Vegas.

LMU and Santa Clara have both already hosted Williams on visits, while Colorado has him scheduled for one starting Aug. 19, per On3.

Williams is typically high school teammates with top-ranked class of 2025 small forward Koa Peat – who UCLA has also offered – but Peat was not at Section 7 due to his presence at the Team USA U17 tryouts. As a result, Williams took on an even larger role in Perry's offense in Glendale, Arizona, that weekend, and he solidified himself as a No. 1 option.

At 6-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Williams brings plenty of length and athleticism to the table. Most scouting reports have highlighted his handles, slashing and ability to run an offense, in addition to his pesky defense on the wing. His brother, Jalen Williams, did well enough at Santa Clara to go No. 12 overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2022 NBA Draft, and the younger of the two has similar tools.

Williams is a consensus four-star prospect, according to 247Sports, Rivals, ESPN and On3. In the 247Sports Composite, Williams is the No. 3 recruit in Arizona, the No. 8 small forward in his class and the No. 38 overall player in the country.

A handful of 2023 prospects have UCLA on their respective lists of finalists, including five-star point guard Isaiah Collier, five-star forward Ron Holland, five-star center Aaron Bradshaw, four-star wing Andrej Stojakovic, four-star power forward Jalen Williams and three-star center Michael Nwoko.

Cody Williams is the latest to join their company, and Cronin will need to convert on several of them in order to fill out a critical 2023 class.

Follow Connon on Twitter at @SamConnonFollow All Bruins on Twitter at @SI_AllBruinsLike All Bruins on Facebook at @SI.AllBruinsSubscribe to All Bruins on YouTube

Read more UCLA stories: UCLA Bruins on Sports IllustratedRead more UCLA men's basketball stories: UCLA Men's Basketball on Sports Illustrated

Day To Day A Lifestyle Right Now For Maxx Williams

Cardinals tight end doesn't want to rush knee prep"Wish I could've waxed it for you guys today," Williams said. "It's nice."The tight end wishes that could be the biggest story around him in training camp. But it isn't the look of his face the Cardinals want to know about, it's the look of his right knee. The one that was caved in on the same field Williams was working on Monday, shredding his ACL and ending his season four-and-a-half games in.It was a surprise to see Williams lifted off the Physica...

Cardinals tight end doesn't want to rush knee prep

"Wish I could've waxed it for you guys today," Williams said. "It's nice."

The tight end wishes that could be the biggest story around him in training camp. But it isn't the look of his face the Cardinals want to know about, it's the look of his right knee. The one that was caved in on the same field Williams was working on Monday, shredding his ACL and ending his season four-and-a-half games in.

It was a surprise to see Williams lifted off the Physically-Unable-To-Perform list last week. Then another impressive step Monday, when he took part in his first 11-on-11 work, albeit only for a few snaps.

He's not making predictions of being able to play in the preseason. He's not making predictions of being ready for the season opener. He's not making predictions at all.

"We're in no rush," Williams said. "We still have two weeks of camp left, a couple preseason games, a lot of time until September," adding, "Today is Monday? I'm thinking about Tuesday."

The Cardinals have their best tight end room since the franchise moved to Arizona. Zach Ertz is nursing a calf issue and rookie Trey McBride had a sore back for a few days, but those two are the ones who are expected to be there against the Chiefs Week 1.

Can Williams? The Cardinals wouldn't mind an unexpected early return.

"He's one of the best blocking tight ends I've ever seen or been around," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He can obviously do things in the pass game as you saw last year. Coming off that injury, we want to be smart with how we use him and play to his strengths.

"I am hopeful we can get those three guys out on the field at the same time, at some point."

McBride, who would take Williams' spot in the short-term as the blocker of the group, said he's learned a ton from Williams, both from the man himself and from watching a lot of film of the work Williams did last year before the injury.

Williams was off to the best start of his career, blocking and catching the ball. When his knee was folded in sideways against the 49ers, "it was devastating for me in the moment."

"For a couple days I was all pissed off, but what good was that going to do?" Williams said, before he eventually accepted his situation and went back to who he is – which is a good-natured, happy guy who cherishes his life.

"I'm still in the NFL," he said.

His son – now 5½ months old – being born in the offseason helped him through the rehab, giving him a distraction from the highs and lows of the attempted comeback.

His return to the practice field came ahead of schedule, but Williams noted "we got to the point in rehab where, 'I need to see if I can play football.' "

He doesn't need to play in preseason games to be ready, not going into his eighth NFL season, but if it makes sense and the team agrees, he could see himself getting a few snaps at some point.

Williams doesn't want to talk about the Chiefs, either.

"It's how do I get ready today," he said. "I don't want to rush anything, get ahead of myself, and then things are going bad quick and I look like an idiot Week 2 sitting on the bench because I wasn't ready."

There is one thing Williams was ready to predict following Monday's practice – that mustache, waxed or not, does not have a long shelf life. It will be shaved sooner rather than later, and almost certainly before the rest of his body is ready to play a football game.

"I'm pretty sick of it," Williams admitted.

Phoenix Suns, head coach Monty Williams agree to multi-year extension

The Phoenix Suns and head coach Monty Williams officially agreed to a long-term contract extension on Wednesday.“I’m grateful to extend my commitment to this team and to all the people who make it a special place,” Williams said in a statement. “Our players put in the work every day that allows us to be successful, and I’m excited to continue this journey with them. I appreciate the constant effort of our staff and every member of the Suns organization; it is a joy to work alongside them all. Our fans are...

The Phoenix Suns and head coach Monty Williams officially agreed to a long-term contract extension on Wednesday.

“I’m grateful to extend my commitment to this team and to all the people who make it a special place,” Williams said in a statement. “Our players put in the work every day that allows us to be successful, and I’m excited to continue this journey with them. I appreciate the constant effort of our staff and every member of the Suns organization; it is a joy to work alongside them all. Our fans are incredible and have made my family and I feel so welcome in the Valley. I’m thankful for them and look forward to continue to work in the community here.”

“This is a get to, not a got to. It’s a blessing to be head coach of the Phoenix Suns.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the extension on Saturday.

Williams still has two years remaining on his original contract and the extension will keep him in the Valley for several seasons, Wojnarowski said.

“Monty has raised the standard for our organization and overseen the transformation of our team’s culture since he joined as head coach three years ago,” Suns general manager James Jones said in the release. “We’re excited to announce this extension and look forward to continuing to build upon this success in the years ahead.”

Taking over as head coach of the Suns prior to the 2019-20 NBA season, Phoenix has seen improvement in every season under the leadership of Williams.

After leading the Suns to an NBA-best 64-18 record last season, Williams was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year. He’s also received the award from the National Basketball Coach’s Association in consecutive seasons.

In the 2020-21 season, Williams led the Suns to the NBA Finals for the first time for the franchise since 1993.

Leading Phoenix for three seasons, the Suns have posted a .656 winning percentage since Williams replaced Igor Kokoskov as head coach.

Williams has also provided Phoenix some stability on the bench, as he’s been the Suns fourth head coach since 2016.

In his first season, the Suns made strides improving to 34 wins from 19 the season prior. Williams was with the Suns in the 2020 NBA Bubble, which would set the tone for the next two seasons.

Now heading into year four, Williams and the Suns will face pressure after an underwhelming playoff performance that saw them getting bounced in the Western Conference semifinals to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Suns will have a similar look next season, with center Deandre Ayton agreeing to a four-year extension, as well as guard Devin Booker inking a long-term extension with Phoenix this summer.

Williams Taking Return Process Day-By-Day

The crowd at State Farm Stadium let out a collective gasp when the replay of Maxx Williams injury was displayed on the Jumbotron. Williams, still on the ground in pain, had just torn his ACL due to a tackle around his knee. The Cardinals tight end was carted off, his season over, and a long road to recovery only beginning.“When I got hit, I knew it was bad and then I heard the whole crowd go quiet and then ooh and ah,” Williams said. “ It sucked, but [I] took it for what it was and [wasn't] going to let it stop me.&r...

The crowd at State Farm Stadium let out a collective gasp when the replay of Maxx Williams injury was displayed on the Jumbotron. Williams, still on the ground in pain, had just torn his ACL due to a tackle around his knee. The Cardinals tight end was carted off, his season over, and a long road to recovery only beginning.

“When I got hit, I knew it was bad and then I heard the whole crowd go quiet and then ooh and ah,” Williams said. “ It sucked, but [I] took it for what it was and [wasn't] going to let it stop me.”

Williams has always been one of the upbeat characters on the Cardinals roster. The 28-year-old entered this year's training camp donning a handlebar mustache and a spirited attitude despite a season-ending injury that curtailed a breakout season.

Before the last year's Week-5 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, Williams had begun to showcase his versatility as a pass-catcher. A talented blocking tight end, Williams was becoming more involved in the pass game. That was until 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley lunged at Williams' planted right leg.

“It was devastating to me personally because, one, we were winning, two, who wants to get hurt in Week (5),” Williams said. “For a couple days, I was all pissed off, but what good was that going to do, for me to be all upset?"

Although his season was over, Williams' sense of humor was apparent almost immediately. A couple weeks after his injury he posted a photo of himself on Twitter, watching the Cardinals game broadcast while he sat on a recliner in a cast.

The optimism from the Cardinals' longest-tenured tight end also extended to being realistic about his injury.

“I won’t be the first guy to come back from a bad knee and I won’t be the last, so for me, it’s just another thing to overcome, take it day-by-day, and to have fun with,” Williams said.

Williams' day-by-day motto regarding his rehab is what he considers the reason he has been able to keep his upbeat mentality through the 11-month rehab process.

Williams said he focused on his rehab and would return home to his newborn baby. His five-month-old baby helped preoccupy him through the offseason and take his mind off the game.

The process has led Williams to be “ahead of schedule” according to head coach Kliff Kingsbury. When camp began, Williams started off on the physically unable to perform list. but was taken off the list last week.

“We kind of got to the point of the rehab where I needed to go see if I can play football,” Williams said.

Although he hasn’t participated in a large amount of practice reps, Williams is back on the field with his fellow teammates while still taking the process a step at a time.

“We’re in no rush, we still have two weeks of camp left [and] a couple preseason games,” Williams said. “It’s a long time till September, so I’m going to take things day- by-day and see how we go.”

The Cardinals open up their preseason play on Friday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but Williams' status on game day is still up in the air. For the tight end he said, he is just focusing on progressing each day.

He added that he does hope he will be ready by Week 1 but stated he wants to be smart about his return.

“I don’t want to rush anything…and all of a sudden things are going bad quick and then I look like an idiot come Week 2 and all of a sudden I’m sitting on the bench because I wasn’t ready.” Williams said.

What it means to be ready to play is different for every player. Williams enters his eighth year with plenty of football experience, enough that his preparation is less about getting preseason reps and more about getting his mind right for the football season, he said.

Williams' positive demeanor has already been noticed by rookie tight end Trey McBride, who said that Williams has helped him primarily in the run game and film. The rookie still admitted that Williams is a bit of a "goofball."

Whether Williams is optimistic, upbeat, positive, or a goofball, the tight end is determined to enjoy his time in the NFL, whether it's on the field or rehabbing.

"I’m still in the NFL, I’m still playing a kid's game for fun for my job," Williams said. "Injuries happen, but I’m still here, still working hard, and still having fun.”

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