Cowboys' Williams: Connection with Romo is like Montana and Rice

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted to make sure everyone saw Roy Williams' spectacular catch.

"Did y'all get that?" Jones emphatically asked photographers and reporters after Williams' acrobatic grab deep down the field between two defenders.

Then, a couple of plays later during the team's first organized team activities this week, Williams dropped a short pass in the middle of the field.

Unfortunately, the drops and lack of production have been far more prominent for Williams in the 1½ seasons since Jones traded four draft picks to the Detroit Lions for him, then gave the former first-round selection from the University of Texas a five-year, $45 million contract extension.

"I promise you I won't lead the league in drops. I know that," Williams said. "People are off my bandwagon, which I don't mind. I'd be off my bandwagon, too."

Williams seems resolved to change things this season, saying he will do everything he must to make that happen.

Even before Wednesday, when the Cowboys wrapped up the first of four consecutive weeks of voluntary OTAs that will lead into a mandatory minicamp, Williams had been routinely catching passes from quarterback Tony Romo.

"He is in good shape, he's running good routes, he's doing good things," Romo said.

Williams told ESPN Radio in Austin that the connection with his quarterback is much better than it was at this point a year ago.

"We were missing balls, and bad throws and drops and all that in the offseason that carried over to the season," Williams said in that interview. "But this year, we're connecting like Montana and Rice. It's night and day from last year."

But Romo and Williams certainly haven't been confused with the Hall of Fame duo from the San Francisco 49ers based on what everybody else has seen on the field.

In 25 regular-season games with the Cowboys, three that Romo missed with a broken finger, Williams has 57 catches for 794 yards and eight touchdowns. That's far removed from Williams' 2006 Pro Bowl season in Detroit, when he caught 82 passes for an NFC-leading 1,310 yards and seven TDs.

While Williams finally got to be part of a winning NFL team in Dallas, he caught just two passes for 18 yards in the last three regular-season games for the NFC East champions.

"I would catch myself running like I'm not going to get this ball," he said. "I'd catch myself breaking the huddle like here we go again."

Williams had eight dropped passes last season while Miles Austin emerged as the Cowboys' top receiver and Pro Bowl pick following Terrell Owens' departure. And now first-round pick Dez Bryant, a playmaking receiver from Oklahoma State, has been added to the mix.

"I'm in it to win it. If somebody can pull in here and take my spot, they've got to be a baaaad man," Williams said with emphasis. "It's mine to lose, I guess you can say. I'm not going to do that. The competition level is going to be high."

Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said Williams made "some good plays" this week, not just the one pointed out by Jones.

"His weight's really good, he looks quick and explosive, he's going to get the ball," Garrett said. "Like with everybody, it's a process that you're always trying to improve each and every day, and it goes to your approach. And his approach has been outstanding."

Williams' arrival from winless Detroit in October 2008 came right after Romo sustained a broken pinkie on his throwing hand. The receiver was bothered by foot problems later in the season, and he finished with 19 catches for 198 yards in 10 games.

Despite Owens' departure last season, Williams became a secondary figure in the Cowboys' offense -- certainly not what he or the team expected after he had 262 catches for 3,884 yards and 29 TDs in 60 games over 4½ seasons for the struggling Lions.

"It's a bummer, but at the same time, I'm getting somebody else open," Williams said. "I'm about winning. ... So it's kind of I'm in the middle. I was somewhat successful in Detroit and we were losing, and get here and it's kind of switch. I'm just on the team, but we're winning. If I can do both, that would be good."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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