Thursday, August 25, 2016

Former truck driver attempts to make Houston Texans’ roster

A few years ago, Wendall Williams was spending his days making deliveries in upstate New York to such companies as Five Guys. Now, the former truck driver hopes to crack the roster of the NFL’s Houston Texans.

An undrafted 25-year-old wide receiver and return man from the NAIA’s University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., Williams is the feel-good story in Houston’s training camp. The Houston Chronicle detailed Williams’ journey from truck driver to pro football player earlier this month.

Williams emerged as a deep threat at Cumberlands last season, catching 15 passes for 457 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games. He added seven more touchdowns with three rushing, three on kick returns, and one on a punt return. That playmaking ability combined with an official 40-yard dash time of 4.32 seconds spawned interest from NFL teams. After he failed to be selected in the NFL Draft, Williams passed on offers from the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals to sign with the Texans for a $5,000 signing bonus.

It didn’t take long for Williams to gain the attention of coaches and teammates at training camp.

“He’s pretty fast,” Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler said in a Houston Texans’ transcript earlier this month. “I was over there doing a pass protection drill with our offensive line, and then it was Tom’s (Savage) turn to hop in. And I just kind of turned my head and saw Wendall taking a kickoff return. (It) looked like he was going 100 miles per hour, so he’s very special when it comes to his speed.”

While Williams has not caught a pass in Houston’s first two preseason games, he has received some action as a return man. He returned a kick for 22 yards during Saturday’s 16-9 win over the New Orleans Saints and has returned three punts for modest yardage in the first two games combined.

Williams may still be a long shot to make the Texans’ 53-man roster, but his speed could help land him on the practice squad or with another team. Houston plays at home against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Aug. 28. The Texans will be forced to cut its current roster from 90 players to 75 by Aug. 30. NFL rosters must be reduced to 53 players by Sept. 3.