The 2011 second-round draft pick avoided the physically unable to perform list and dressed for the Cardinals' first two preseason games this year, but he had yet to see any game action.
That changed Friday night, however, when coach Ken Whisenhunt called Williams' number on the Cardinals' opening play from scrimmage in a 31-27 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Williams was hit for a 1-yard loss, but he gained 15 yards on his second carry, and carries on the following two plays gained 5 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run.
Williams finished with 25 yards on five attempts before calling it a night. Afterward, Williams acknowledged some butterflies that went away, courtesy of that first hit.
"My heart has been pounding for two or three days," Williams said, according to the Cardinals' official website. "It was like I hadn't played football, like I was back in Pop Warner. But that got over quick, after that first carry. After that first hit, it was like, 'Whew. Now let's ball.' "
With an apparent disaster on their hands at quarterback, the Cardinals will be relying on Williams and Beanie Wells to remain healthy this season. Early returns on Williams look good, so if Wells can get right before the start of the season, Arizona will have a formidable 1-2 punch in its backfield.Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter @brian_mcintyre.