Raiders hope practice makes perfect for WR Mike Williams

NAPA, Calif. (AP) -Twice in a span of three plays, Mike Williams worked his way free from star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha near the goal line and caught a pass from Josh McCown for a touchdown.

Earlier, Williams made a juggling catch in the end zone for another score. It may only be training camp, but Williams is showing signs of why he was so heralded when he came out of college two years ago.

But after the struggles Williams endured his first two seasons in the NFL when he was in Detroit, he's not about to put too much stock into his performance at a hotel field in California's wine country.

"It's practice man," Williams said Friday at the Oakland Raiders' training camp facility. "I don't really look too much into it. That's all it is is practice. We were just fortunate enough the ball came out at the right time and I was able to make a play."

Williams made few of those in his two seasons with the Lions, when he clashed with coaches, was late to meetings and did not meet weight targets set by the team. He had 29 catches for 350 yards and one touchdown as a rookie, before playing sparingly last season under new offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

Williams had just eight catches for 99 yards and one touchdown in 2006 and even fell behind McCown - a quarterback - on the depth chart at receiver at one point. The Lions finally parted ways with Williams in April, sending him and McCown to the Raiders for a fourth-round draft choice.

He then injured his hamstring in his first minicamp practice with the Raiders in May, and missed the rest of the offseason workouts. Coach Lane Kiffin, who was Williams' position coach in college at Southern California, said the receiver still has work to do to get into shape.

But the weight target the Raiders have set for him of 235 pounds is 15 more than the Lions wanted him to weigh and better suits his style. Williams said too much was made of his weight in Detroit and said more time should have been spent developing him as a player.

"If they had spent as much time doing that as they did magnifying the things that didn't relate to football as much ...," he said. "But that's in the past. I'm here, Kiff hasn't given me some outstanding weight I haven't seen since high school like Detroit. It's just one less thing I have to worry about."

Williams showed that his size can be an advantage during some of the drills Friday. He used his 6-foot-5 frame to work his way free from Asomugha and catch the touchdowns, similar to how he did it at USC.

"That is a value, obviously - his size and being able to keep people away from him," Kiffin said. "That goes back to when he's right, he's a dangerous red-zone player. He played for us two years, he caught 30 touchdowns in two years for us. There is good ways to use him down there. But he's got to get better."

When Williams was acquired in the draft-day trade by the Raiders, he admitted that this could be his last chance to succeed in the NFL. That's what made his minicamp injury so tough to handle as he fell further behind returning receivers Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry.

"It was frustrating because I was coming in and it was kind of the first step toward competing for a starting spot and putting it on film," he said. "Then to get hurt and JP and Ron and all the other guys had a chance to have a good offseason or spring. So it was a setback. When training camp comes it's a whole different thing. It's pads, it's longer and OTAs are kind of relaxed. You can't make that time up. I can just go out and work and try to get it back now."

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