DJ Williams

proCane Free Agent Signing Roundup

A lot has happened in the last 48 hours in the NFL as far as Free Agent signings and our proCanes have been at the center of it all with several proCane stars joining new teams. See a recap of all the action below:

Former 49ers RB Frank Gore signed a 3-year $12 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

Former Texans WR Andre Johnson signed a 3-year $21 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

TE Jimmy Graham was traded from the New Orleans Saints to Seattle Seahawks.

Former Giants S Antrel Rolle signed a 3-year $11.25 million contract with the Chicago Bears.

Former Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson signed a 1-year $1 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

OT Eric Winston re-signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Former Broncos OL Orlando Franklin signed a 5-year $36 million contract with the San Diego Chargers.

OT Jason Fox re-signed with the Miami Dolphins.

MLB Jon Beason re-signed with the NY Giants.

Notable proCane Free Agents still available: Chris Myers, Brandon Meriweather, Santana Moss, Colin McCarthy, Reggie Wayne, Vince Wilfork, DJ Williams, Darryl Sharpton.

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Bears moving on from MLB D.J. Williams

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears have informed free agent middle linebacker D.J. Williams of the team’s intention to move in a different direction, and that Williams will not be offered a contract to return, according to source with direct knowledge of the situation.

Several teams have expressed interest in the 32-year old linebacker in advance of Tuesday’s official opening of free agency.

Williams started 10 games and recorded 73 tackles last year for the Bears before landing on injured reserve on Dec. 11 because of a nagging neck ailment.

The 11-year veteran played just six games in 2013 before suffering a season-ending torn pectoral muscle.

Williams spent the first nine seasons of his NFL career (2004-2012) in Denver where he solidified himself as one of the Broncos’ top defenders, registering 100-plus tackles five times while moving around to play middle, strong side and weak side linebacker.

Williams overlapped with new Bears coach John Fox for two years in Denver, and even though Williams endorsed the Fox hire in Chicago, he expressed uncertainty over his future in Chicago during an interview with ESPN 1000’s “Carmen and Jurko Show” in January.

"I had a good relationship with John Fox," Williams said. "He was a great coach. I'm late in my career and I do want to go to a place where I'm comfortable. I feel like if I do talk to John Fox he would shoot me straight and tell me what my position would be on the team. I'm feeling pretty good. I had a neck injury earlier this year. It's one of those injuries that you just needed time for it to heal. Now I'm feeling good and ready to go."

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Dyme U Collection By proCane DJ Williams. GET IT NOW!


D.J. Williams: John Fox's experience huge bonus for Bears

CHICAGO -- Free-agent middle linebacker D.J. Williams is a firm believer that brand-new Chicago Bears head coach John Fox's wealth of experience separated the 59-year-old from other candidates.

"Fox has been through the ups and downs of the NFL; he knows and understands the dynamics of the league," Williams said on ESPN 1000's "Carmen and Jurko Show" on Friday. "A younger coach may not. They may be new and innovative with ideas and things like that, but at the end of the day, it's football. It's run the ball, throw the ball, tackle the ball carrier ... it's a simple game, but sometimes I feel like people make it too difficult."

Williams, an 11-year veteran, spent two seasons (2011-12) in Denver with Fox before jumping to the Bears in 2013. Fox brings 13 years of head-coaching experience to Chicago, after successful runs with the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Fox won four straight division titles in Denver and qualified for the postseason three times in Carolina.

"Fox makes coming to work fun," Williams said. "I would say he's an easy-going guy, but he's still old-school football. It's very hard to find a blend of that, somebody who's like real hard-nosed, but laid-back at the same time. I find you don't demand respect, you earn it. Being around John Fox for two years, how he approaches guys in the locker room, he'll chat you up and talk to you ... when you do that you get respect from the guys."

Fox and general manager Ryan Pace face an uphill battle to rebuild the Bears' defense, a unit that struggled mightily the past two seasons. Williams is one of several older players on the roster new management may deem expendable, especially after Williams ended the year of injured reserve (neck) for the second consecutive year.

Williams, a free agent, is unsure whether Chicago wants him to return but expects a straightforward answer from Fox if the two meet to discuss the linebacker's future.

"I had a good relationship with John Fox," Williams said. "He was a great coach. I'm late in my career and I do want to go to a place where I'm comfortable. I feel like if I do talk to John Fox he would shoot me straight and tell me what my position would be on the team. I'm feeling pretty good. I had a neck injury earlier this year. It's one of those injuries that you just needed time for it to heal. Now I'm feeling good and ready to go."

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Bears MLB D.J. Williams done for year with neck injury

A neck injury has landed Bears middle linebacker D.J. Williams on season-ending injured reserve.

Williams, who had recently returned from a concussion, started all but two games this season and finishes it having contributed to 46 tackles. He had no sacks or interceptions, however.

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D.J. Williams Talks About Dyme Lyfe Movement

(CBS) The Bears (2-2) face the Panthers (2-2) on the road Sunday. Here’s what is on my mind heading into the matchup.

First impression
A Dyme Lyfe started in 2009 for Bears linebacker D. J. Williams and a few then-teammates on the Denver Broncos. Think of it as a lifestyle of random acts of kindness.

“Dyme is actually an acronym for Do you motivate and emanate?” Williams said. “We try to get people to be themselves, be positive, be who you are and push that out in the world.”

Williams started a clothing line of the same name and printed up some shirts for teammates last week with a Bears twist on the “Be A Monster” theme prevalent in the organization. It’s tied into several charity endeavors Williams is involved with, including “Homeicon1 Team Closet.”

“We have a lot of shoes and clothes as pro athletesicon1,” Williams said. “We asked guys on the team to clean out their closet.”

Williams asked Brandon Marshall and Tim Jennings to pitch in, and just between the three of them they came up with 500 items, some of which were donated to 15 kids in Chicago on Monday.

“The big vision of it is to have a bin in every locker room in every pro sport,” Williams said. “If we do that, we think we can help out a lot of people. Just imagine if everybody in the world did one favor for somebody else, how great things would be.”

More on Williams’ “Dyme Lyfe” will air in Sunday’s audio version of Joniak’s Journal on the Bears-Panthers pregame show airing at 10:10 a.m. on News Radio 780 and 105.9 FM, WBBM.

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Comments EXCLUSIVE Preview of Article Running TOMORROW on the 2001 Hurricanes

A message from Aaron Torres of

“They’re the greatest team of all-time.”

It’s a statement we often hear about the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, both by fans, and the media members who cover college football as well.

But after hearing it earlier this year, a light-bulb went off in my head: Just about everyone seems to have an opinion the 2001 ‘Canes, except Miami’s former players and coaches themselves.

And from there, another thought immediately popped into my head: What if I tracked down as many Hurricanes players and coaches from that 2001 season as I could, interviewed them, and asked what they thought about their team, and where they rank in college football history.

How awesome would that be?

Well, six months later, the answer was “spectacular” and after collecting interviews with roughly 50 former players and coaches, an article, the definitive article on the greatest team in the history of college football will run on on Wednesday.

If you’re a ‘Canes fan (which I have to imagine you are if you’re reading this website), I can promise you that you can enjoy the article.

But here’s the thing: During the process of reporting the article, I learned that I wasn’t the only one who shared the same passion for the 2001 ‘Canes. As it turned out, one of the former players I interviewed, Najeh Davenport, also shared that passion, and like me wanted to tell the world his team’s story. Najeh recently released a documentary about the team, titled ‘The U: Reloaded’ which premiered last month. Through Najeh, I met his business partner Platon, who runs things here at

And it was through my friendship with Platon, that we’ve decided to give Miami fans a treat. Before the article runs in full on Wednesday, Platon was nice enough to offer up his space here on, to run an excerpt. It’s a treat for all you diehard ‘Canes fans, and proCanes is the only place that you can read this exclusive excerpt.

Of course the article will still run in its entirety Wednesday, and if you enjoy what you read here, be sure to check out the article on You can also follow on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, where I’ll post the link once it goes live.

In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt from the article….

In the excerpt, we pick things up shortly after Larry Coker was hired as head coach, as the team prepared for the 2001 season.

As you’ll learn however, it really didn’t matter who the Hurricanes had hired as head coach. The team was not going to be denied the title that had eluded them the year before.

Again, enjoy and be sure to look for the full article on Wednesday.

The final, and arguably most important piece to the 2001 team was set: Miami had its head coach.

Now it was time to get to work. A team that had been denied a shot at a National Championship the season before, was not going to allow that to happen again.

Joaquin Gonzalez (senior, offensive tackle): The one thing I remember going into 2001 was, Larry Coker and his staff, as well as the players decided that we weren’t going to leave the decision on who plays for the championship on anyone else’s plate but our own. 

Brett Romberg (junior, center): (Our mindset was) ‘This year it ain’t gonna be decided on a poll or whatever kind of computer analysis.’ We were worked up, ready to get back at it.

Maurice Sikes (sophomore, safety): If you’re going to say you’re a champion, earn it. Don’t leave it to a voter; don’t leave it to anything to chance.’

D.J. Williams (sophomore, linebacker): It was great to be there with Butch, but when he left our plan didn’t change.

Brett Romberg (junior, center): We were anxious to get back at it. We didn’t want downtime. Usually you’re excited to get back home, brag ‘We just won the Sugar Bowl’ but we didn’t want that. We were like, ‘Let’s get back in the weight room, and get after it.

Ed Reed (senior, safety): When we got back to Miami to start spring football … my God. That spring before that National Championship year, those off-season workouts, it was like no other in the world.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): That was our DNA (to work hard). That is part of our system. It wasn’t talent-driven, it was work-ethic driven.

Mike Rumph (senior, cornerback): I don’t feel like we get ever get credit for our work ethic. I played six years in the NFL and the hardest I ever worked was at Miami. Those summers were treacherous.

Frank Gore (freshman, running back): My first day I get there, we were doing agilities with the linebackers; I’m competing with Chris Campbell, God rest his soul, and I’m like ‘Man, I think I made the wrong decision.’ I’m the top (high school) running back, how is a linebacker beating me in agilities?

Clinton Portis (junior, running back): We competed in everything! We all wanted to be the fastest player, we all wanted to be the best basketball player, we all wanted to be the highest jumper, we all wanted to be the best at everything we did.

Antrel Rolle (freshman, cornerback): The way we practiced, it was insane. I’ll be honest with you, it was literally insane. You would think that we did not like each other, on the field, off the field.

Mike Rumph (senior, cornerback): It was just a machine. It was a machine but we were just so afraid to have failure.

Curtis Johnson (wide receivers coach): Andreu Swasey said this all the time: The players were always around. They were always around us, always around the office. It’d be Friday night, Saturday morning, they’d be around, they’d want to want watch more film, and we couldn’t get rid of these guys for nothing. Their whole lives revolved around this little football team.

Mark Stoops (defensive backs coach): Soon after I was hired by Larry (as defensive backs coach in 2001) I was in my office working on a Saturday and I saw one of my players come by, then I saw another one. Over the course of the morning several guys stopped up and were talking. And I thought it was odd. I asked one of them, ‘What are you doing here on a Saturday morning?’ And one of them just looked at me and tilted his head and was like ‘Coach, this is just what we do.’

Mike Rumph (senior, cornerback): People didn’t see the Saturdays where we met up as a team (in the off-season). Or the meetings we’d have 6 in the morning, where there were no coaches there.

Brett Romberg (junior, center): Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m., no matter how hung-over you were, you are in the field.

Mark Stoops (defensive backs coach): Over the course of the morning several guys stopped up and were talking. And I thought it was odd. I asked one of them, ‘What are you doing here on a Saturday morning?’ And one of them just looked at me and tilted his head and was like ‘Coach, this is just what we do.’

Brett Romberg (junior, center): Granted, you didn’t have to be there. At any other school a guy might show up at 8:05 with his shoes untied or something. Not at Miami. No, if you didn’t show up at 7:55 ready to go, you got shunned. Nobody wants to talk to you, because you think you’re so much bigger than the group. There were never any egos.

Mark Stoops (defensive backs coach): They did seven-on-seven with each other, the o-line and d-line worked basically the whole year round. That’s just what they did; it was part of their culture… I was blown away by the player’s self-motivation and how great the leaders were there.

Don Soldinger (running backs coach): One time, Frank Gore called me at 3:30 a.m. to ask me about pass protections.

Frank Gore (freshman, running back): He said ‘If you need help, don’t be afraid to call.’ So I was studying my plays and I called him and told him to quiz me.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): Who stood out as leaders and workers from that group? Can I say ‘The team?’ I had so many guys.

Curtis Johnson (wide receivers coach): It started during 2000, but the players, they really policed themselves. We had no altercations, we had no nothing.

Ed Reed (senior, safety): We told coach, ‘If anything happens with the players on the team coach, we got it. Don’t you worry about it.’

D.J. Williams (sophomore, linebacker): As far as punishment, that was all done within the locker room.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): If you didn’t make your times, it wasn’t pretty for you. And I didn’t have anything to do with it! I did everything to help you, I might try to save you, but the rest of the guys would be like ‘Coach, you might not want to see this.’

Phillip Buchanon (junior, cornerback): The coaches aren’t gonna handle this. This is our locker room. We’re going to handle this.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): They handled their own discipline. So I’d start talking and Ed Reed would cut me off, like ‘I don’t mean any disrespect…’ then he’d handle the lecture for me. And I’m like ‘Damn, ok.’

Curtis Johnson (wide receivers coach): I remember, Sean Taylor was a freshman and I was watching him right at the beginning of two-a-days and Sean, he just didn’t run (as) fast (as he could) or something. And the coach went to get on him, and before the coach could get there Ed Reed just jumped on him; Sean was almost crying. It was the worst thing you could ever see, but the coaches didn’t have to do any of that, the players did it all. When that happens, I knew we were well on our way.

Najeh Davenport (senior, fullback): This may seem bad to say, but my senior year, Coach Coker was the head coach, Coach Chud was the offensive coordinator, but once we learned the system, that’s all she wrote.

Maurice Sikes (sophomore, safety): (Coker) knew how great of a team he had. He had been there with us. We had great leadership on our team, we had great coaches, great assistants, great starters, great back-ups. We knew what we had, and knew we didn’t need much tinkering.

Brett Romberg (junior, center): Butch Davis had done a great job steering that ship and doing a great job in building it, and all we needed was somebody to maintain the animal. Coker was the perfect fit.

Maurice Sikes (sophomore, safety): He had a very good understanding of the fact that he had a masterpiece. All he had to do was take it to the damn museum.

Najeh Davenport (senior, fullback): We were teaching each other, coaching each other, watching film together. We were destined to win the National Championship. 

Randy Shannon (defensive coordinator): I felt like we had a bunch of guys who had a common goal. They wanted to win a championship.
Aaron is a contributor at You can follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, and be sure to check for the full article on Wednesday.

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D.J. Williams returns with 'a lot to prove'

BOURBONNAIS — By now, the rehabilitation process has become boring to D.J. Williams. 

That’s how the 11-year veteran linebacker described his latest stint of having to rehab a ruptured left pectoral muscle that ended his season after just six games. Williams, 32, has always dealt with a handful of injuries throughout his career, having missed games due to injury in three separate seasons.

Even in his first year as a Bear, Williams, who spent nine seasons with the Broncos, dealt with a nagging calf injury throughout July and August of 2013. In addition to that, he caught bronchitis leading up to the Week Five game against the Saints before ultimately rupturing his pectoral muscle towards the end of the third quarter against the Giants in Week Six. 

But Williams sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Everyday you just keep grinding and going ahead,” Williams said. “I’m very eager (to get back). I know I have a lot to prove to a lot of people, especially climbing up in age at 32. But I’m in the greatest shape I’ve been in in a long time.”

Williams said being in great shape involved returning to his rookie weight, where he weighed 250 pounds out of the University of Miami.

Williams will also play middle linebacker, a position that he was brought in for last season and again when he re-signed to a one-year deal. Williams, who has played at every other linebacker position, said he doesn’t mind and loves playing the middle.

“I don’t want to say our defense is simple, but it highlights what I do pretty well,” Williams said. “It allows me to run sideline to sideline and play defense inside out. We play Cover-2 a lot where guys are breaking and making plays.”

The 32-year old enjoyed success in his limited time in 2013. Williams earned two sacks, which was still the second-most for the Bears’ linebackers, despite missing 10 games.

However, not only is Williams out to redeem himself, but he also added the defense is out to make up for the disastrous year they had as a group. The defense ranked 30th in total yards allowed and dead last in run defense.

Williams said the team is ready to get out and start tackling opponents. The Bears' first preseason game is Friday against the Eagles.

“Playing one of the opponents that I say personally embarrassed [us] last season, we’re eager to see how far we’ve come and still see what we have to do,” Williams said. “I want to shut them out. That’s how you approach every game, whether it's preseason, regular season or practice.

“I just want to see everybody beat their guy and get to the ball, be energetic and follow the plan."

While he wants the defense to succeed, Williams also has to prove himself to his coaches. Bears head coach Marc Trestman has stressed that competition has been the theme of training camp and Williams is in one that could be considered the closest.

When the preseason depth chart was released, Williams and second-year linebacker Jon Bostic were listed as co-starters for the middle linebacker spot. In camp, Bostic has been the starting nickel linebacker, with Williams taking the first-team reps with the base defense.

“It kind of reminds me of me and [former All-Pro Broncos linebacker] Al Wilson when I first came in the league,” Williams said. “It’s a competition and I want to play as many reps as possible, and know that he does as well.

“But you know, it’s a brotherhood and we consider each other family, It doesn’t matter who’s out there, we’ll both be rooting for each other.”

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Bostic pushing D.J. Williams for starting job

When the Chicago Bears re-signed D.J. Williams in March, the expectation was that the veteran would assume the starting middle linebacker job that he held prior to a season-ending torn left pectoral muscle in October.

That won't necessarily be the case.

Williams has been splitting first-team reps with 2013 second-round draft pick Jon Bostic in OTAs. Even in non-contact practices, Bostic is "making a strong impression," CSN Chicago's John Mullin reported Tuesday.

It's an interesting battle to monitor.

Williams turns 32 in July and no longer has the range he did with the Broncos last decade.

Bostic made splash plays in preseason action last summer, but was exposed as not ready for prime time during the Bears' seven-weak stretch of historically inept run defense from late October through mid-December.

There were even postseason whispers that Bostic could be moved to the outside. He will have to prove that he can shed blocks with authority and take the correct route to the ball if he's going to displace Williams in Mel Tucker's revamped defense.

It's one thing to impress the coaching staff in June drills. It's quite another to maintain that level of production once the games start to count.

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Chicago Bears Re-Sign DJ Williams to 1-Year Deal

The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms on a 1-year deal with veteran linebacker DJ Williams, per Josina Anderson:

Text from LB D.J. Williams: "I've agreed to sign with the Bears."

For everyone rushing Shea McClellin or Jon Bostic to the middle linebacker spot, not so fast.  DJ is in the house!

Williams was brought in last offseason as a stopgap for the “retiring” Brian Urlacher.  The Bears drafted Jonathan Bostic in the second round, presumably to play middle linebacker, but after part of the season at the Mike, Phil Emery acknowledged that Bostic’s strength might be on the outside.  I suspect he’s going to study at the hand of Lance Briggs and replace Lance when he’s done with the Bears.

Williams was just starting to hit his stride with the Bears when a torn pectoral muscle that cost him the rest of last season after just just a handful of games with the Bears last season.  They must have seen enough in him to bring him back on another 1-year deal, terms not yet disclosed.

It’s not the sexiest pickup for the Bears, but it’s another solid addition to their defense that will create a ton of competition at the linebacker position.

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D.J. Williams out for season with muscle tear

LAKE FOREST, Ill., Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The Chicago Bears said linebacker D.J. Williams will miss the rest of the season with a torn muscle, sustained in Thursday's win over the New York Giants.

Williams left the game after tearing his left pectoral muscle in the third quarter of the Bears' 27-21 victory.

Rookie Jon Bostic went in for Williams and will take over at middle linebacker.

Bostic, a second-round choice out of Florida, started the first three games of the season for Chicago while Williams recovered from a calf injury sustained during the pre-season.

Williams signed with the Bears in March after eight seasons with the Denver Broncos.

He had 27 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in six games this season.

Chicago is 4-2, in first place in the NFC North. The Bears next play the Washington Redskins on the road Oct. 20.

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DJ Williams: In the Bears he trusts

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- D.J. Williams is talking barbecue, business and football, but the conversation keeps coming back to the issue of trust.

Williams said he trusts his three buddies from the University of Miami with whom he has partnered in two soon-to-be Brother Jimmy's BBQ franchises.

He trusts the Bears after giving him a fresh start and then keeping their faith in him despite a calf injury that kept him out all of training camp. And he trusts that Bears fans will give him a chance after his final two years in Denver, which have him grateful to still be playing.

"I think me leaving Denver was the perfect situation," said Williams, suspended for nine games by the NFL last season for two separate incidents dating back to 2010. "The first thing for me is always to be somewhere where people want you. [The Broncos] weren't interested in me anymore. I really wasn't into what was going on there and how I was treated that year I came back from my suspension, so I think it worked out well. Everybody got a good part of the deal."

In March, Williams signed a one-year, incentive-laden, nonguaranteed contract with a base value of $900,000 to replace Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker. But he may be gone before Bears fans have a chance to get to know and trust him.

A former first-round pick of the Broncos, Williams, 31, seemed to hit his stride in Week 3 at Pittsburgh with two sacks, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble, and he has 14 tackles in four games. The Steelers game, said his mother Sherri Gonzales, was a key in her son's comeback of sorts, and she heard it in his voice afterward.”

"How he looked on the field in that third game is exactly who he is and what he is, and no matter what anyone says, they can't take that from him," she said. "In his head and in his heart, that's who he is. ... That was a long time in coming and he definitely deserved that game. He proved to everybody he deserves to be in the NFL and he deserves to be a Bear for the rest of his career."

Gonzales said things got so bad in Denver after the suspensions -- one was for violating the league's banned-substances policy and the other after a jury found him guilty of driving while impaired in a case that dated back to 2010 -- that he was stopped indiscriminately by police in his own gated community.

Williams said, however, that his love of the game never wavered.

"Personally, I'm not bitter," he said. "But seeing the things that happen on and off the field, it's a crazy business. A lot of the stories that came out about me -- I did some wrong things but a lot of the truth was missed, and in those situations, I just decided to be quiet. The story is already out. But once you get out on the field and you start laughing and joking around with the guys, you realize why you continue to wake up every morning and put your body through it."

Gonzales was a former junior Olympian in track, a college softball player, and a figure competitor in physique exhibition events (stressing muscle definition over size, unlike bodybuilding). She said D.J.'s father was also well-built and that their son is a product of his parents.

"There were articles when D.J. was in 10th grade, with reporters calling him a freak of nature because he was so big. There were pictures of him where he looked like a grown man. He's just always been big and athletic," said Gonzales, who said her son excelled in football, baseball, track and basketball, dunking at age 13 at Jason Kidd's basketball camp.

Williams wanted to be a running back and played fullback his freshman year at Miami before switching to linebacker, where he was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award with teammate Jonathan Vilma his junior year and again his senior year.

His friendships with Vilma, now with New Orleans, and fellow linebacker Jon Beason, now with Carolina, expanded into a business partnership.

"We made sure they were good investments, nothing ridiculous," said Williams, who -- like the other two -- owns a 17 percent piece of the restaurants and is also a part of a "very small investment" in some lounges. "Nothing that would hurt my bank account too much if it didn't pan out. I think that's the biggest mistake most guys make."

Williams, who said he would also like to own a gym one day, speaks to his partners at least once a week, and each occupies a different role in the business.”

"I like to say I'm the party and event coordinator," he said. "Jonathan Vilma does the books. Restaurants and clubs are the worst things in the world because they flip-flop so many times, and you have to have someone you trust watching the money when you're not there. There are so many intangibles where you can lose money, but this one is kind of a family-oriented thing -- basically four guys that went to school together and the owner who really doesn't want to tarnish his name, so we've got a good crew."

In August 2012, the restaurant received national attention when a sign in the window reading "Do Not Serve This Man" (with a picture of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell) was photographed and spread via Twitter.

"One of the managers, I think, put that up, and Vilma and I got a lot of attention for it," Williams said. "I was in training camp with the Broncos and Vilma was suspended." Vilma was a central figure in the Saints' bounty scandal that led to the suspension of four players, but the suspensions were eventually vacated by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was appointed by Goodell to review the penalties. Vilma filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell, but it was later dismissed in federal court.

"Once it hit the media, it made it seem like we put it up," Williams said. "At the time, Vilma was beefing with the commissioner and I stick with my friends. But the truth was, neither of us put it up, and it was only up for one day when the picture was taken."

That loyalty and trust between friends, Williams said, is nothing new for him.

"I've pretty much been that way my whole life," he said. "I really only talk to people I know. I do have an outgoing personality, but it's only outgoing with people I know. If I don't know you, I really don't talk to you. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much time, and I'd rather waste it with people I have genuine relationships with."

His best friend, he said, is still a guy he met when the two were 9 years old.

"He's been everywhere," Williams said. "He came to Miami when I was in college. He used to come to Denver all the time. He's already been to Chicago twice. I'm his kids' godfather and vice versa. He considers my mom his mom. And besides that, the only guys I hang out with are guys who I went to college with. I doubt I'm going to make any new friends in Chicago unless they're teammates.

"It's a guy thing. I think after around 21, guys don't make friends. Girls can do that, be in the bathroom, 'Your shoes are cute,' come out and exchange numbers. Men really don't do that."

Williams, however, has forged friendships quickly with his teammates, including rookie Jon Bostic, whose solid play while Williams missed all of training camp had some Bears fans calling for the second-round pick to start at linebacker when the season began.

"D.J. has helped me since day one. I'm real close with him," said Bostic, who has also sought Williams' advice on future business plans. "He'll come out and say, 'Hey, did you see that player whatever?' ... He's played in this league 10 years, so there's a lot I can learn from him."

Williams said it meant a lot to him that Bears coaches stuck with him and started him when the season began.

"We communicated the whole time, and they told me if I came back and I was healthy, the spot was still mine," he said. "It was a good feeling."

Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said the decision was not a difficult one.

"[Williams is] a veteran payer; he has a tremendous amount of experience, has a high football IQ," Tucker said. "He's a good football player, and he's been that for a long time. We had him before his injury and we saw that. He was that. And we felt once he got healthy that he'd eventually get back to full speed and continue in his development in this system.

"I really like D.J. He's a great guy to be around. He loves football, loves to talk football, has a lot of experience in a lot of different schemes. He's excellent with his teammates, always willing to help. He asks good questions and he works hard."

As for replacing a legend like Urlacher, Williams trusts that his teammates and Bears fans will know that it won't get in his way.

"I don't think about it," he said. "That's just [added] pressure and something good for talk radio. I just try to come out and perform, make sure I'm a solid player for the defense. It wouldn't matter to me if I had my best career stats if we did poorly. To me, I'm just filling in that spot, filling in the void."

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D.J. Williams’ job: Slow Adrian Peterson

D.J. Williams has played in 128 NFL games but has shared the field with Adrian Peterson fewer times than a Soldier Field rent-a-cop.

While many members of the Bears’ veteran defense are used to seeing the Minnesota Vikings twice a year, Williams has faced their running back exactly once in his regular-season career. In 2007, the rookie gained 36 yards on 11 carries against Williams’ former team, the Denver Broncos.

“I’m excited to play against him — he’s considered to be one of the best backs in the league — and just go against him,” Williams, signed in March to replace Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker, said Wednesday after practice at Halas Hall. “Not physically, myself, but the whole defense.”

Fairly or not, Williams will be compared to Urlacher against a power runner such as Peterson. But the Bears swear a group effort is the key Sunday to stopping the man who last year ran for 2,097 yards, nine shy of the all-time record.

Cornerback Charles Tillman said the Bears need to “population-tackle.” Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said “everyone’s got to do their job” against “one of the best backs to ever play the game.”

“You very seldom see the first guy bring him down,” said strong-side linebacker James Anderson, who faced Peterson three times with the Carolina Panthers. “When you’ve got a guy that can make the first guy miss, he can get yards after contact. It makes for a very difficult tackle.”

That it does.

“I’m sure most corners don’t want to tackle Adrian Peterson,” said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, a Bears cornerback from 1981 to ’86. “Nor did they want to have to tackle Walter [Payton].”

Group effort worked for the Detroit Lions last Sunday.

Peterson ran a ridiculous counter to the left side for a 78-yard touchdown on his first touch of the season — he sat out the entire preseason — but was bottled up afterward, gaining 15 yards on his last 17 carries.

The reason: Detroit put eight defenders in the box on 15 of his first 16 tries.

“He’ll be all we can handle,” coach Marc Trestman said. “The guys here know that. They’ve played against him enough to know that.”

Not so with Williams, who started Sunday despite missing all four preseason games with a right calf injury. He made seven tackles — four were credited after re-evaluating tape — on 42 defensive snaps.

More telling: His backup, Jon Bostic, didn’t appear on defense.

Williams’ conditioning “was better than we thought,” Trestman said.

“I think he’s going to just get better,” he said.

Williams is used to change — Denver had seven defensive coordinators in his last seven years there — so he adjusted to the Bears’ preseason scheme without taking the field.

“It was frustrating because I still gotta prove that I can play,” Williams said. “I wanted to see the guys actually see me play.”

Williams thought he “flew around pretty well” against the Bengals.

“Coming off a month and a half of basically doing nothing, just practicing, the game’s going to feel a lot faster,” he said. “I felt I made the right keys. I didn’t do anything to hurt the defense.

“But, you know, each week you’ve got to pick it up and progress and play better the next week.”

Even if that week features Peterson, fresh off one of the great seasons in NFL history.

Like Williams, Trestman doesn’t need to see Peterson in person — he hasn’t — to know what the Bears are facing.

“I don’t have to look at the tape to evaluate him,” Trestman said. “He’s exactly what you see every time he touches the ball.”

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2013 Most Important Bears: No. 7 D.J. Williams

While some are simply assuming the Bears defense will take a step backwards with Lovie Smith and Brian Urlacher gone, it’s important to remember that nine starters from a solid group return this season.

That said, without No. 54, the defense certainly will have a different feel this season.

Stepping in for Urlacher in the middle is newcomer D.J. Williams, who is a proven NFL linebacker, but comes in with his fair share of baggage. Williams has two DUIs on his record and was suspended for six games last season after failing a league drug test. The Denver Broncos released Williams in March and the Bears hope a change of scenery will pay off.

Given the physical state Urlacher was in last season, Williams is almost certainly an upgrade in the middle athletically, but that doesn’t mean the Bears won’t miss Urlacher. Lance Briggs will take over the play-calling on the defensive side, so that should take some of the pressure off Williams, but he still needs to deliver with a big season. For as much criticism as Urlacher took last year, the season went downhill after he was lost for the season. Williams should be an upgrade over Nick Roach (who filled in for Urlacher in the middle), but he needs to prove he’s able to be a consisten sponge against the run while also dropping back in coverage when necessary.

Simply put: this is the biggest question mark on the defense and while there’s optimism Williams will be able to fill the void in the middle, it’s far from a guarantee.

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Getting to Know You: New Bear D.J. Williams

The Bears have several new players this year. As we get closer to training camp, Grizzly Detail will help you get to know the Bears. Today, we look at a new Bear who has the tough task of replacing a legend: D.J. Williams.

Who is he? D.J. Williams

Where did he go to school? Miami, which is also the alma mater of Devin Hester. He was a member of the Hurricanes' 2001-2002 national championship team. 

Where did he play before Chicago? With the Denver Broncos, though he didn't play much last season because of suspensions' due to a failed drug test. The Broncos suspended him six games, and the NFL added three more. He played both outside and middle linebacker for Denver.

What will he bring to the Bears? The reason why Williams is a surprising signing is that it's hard to say what he will bring based on his recent performance. He had 17 tackles in six games last season. Previously, he was a reliable linebacker that could get to the quarterback and force fumbles. Those traits will help him fit in well on the Bears' defense, which emphasizes forcing turnovers.

What are his downsides? He has had many off-the-field issues. Williams has had two DUIs, plus the drug suspension. This is not particularly confidence-inspiring. He's signed for a one-year contract, so if his demons show up again, it won't be tough for the Bears to can him.

Who is he replacing? A player you may remember by the name of Brian Urlacher. Williams is in a tough position because he is replacing a Bears' legend.

What number will he wear? 58, which was worn by Wilber Marshall and Jerry Muckensturm, one of the best-named Bears of all time.
Anything else to know about him? He's not afraid to wear a baby carrier.

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D.J. Williams "just trying to be myself"

D.J. Williams is the new guy in town, even though the 10-year veteran linebacker already has made a name for himself around the NFL as an aggressive tackler with the Denver Broncos.

When the Chicago Bears moved on from their longtime relationship with future Hall of Fame middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, the urgency heightened for Williams to fill the void.

“Coming in here, I am not trying to be him. Just trying to be myself,” Williams said Tuesday following the team’s first day of minicamp in the Walter Payton Center. “I'm just trying to blend in and fit in with the guys and help them win games. I don’t think any player ever tries to be like anybody else.”

Williams, 30, played just seven games last season because of a suspension for failing a mandatory league drug test.

“It’s a rebirth (with the Bears). Last year I didn’t have the greatest year,” Williams acknowledged. “I got suspended multiple games. I get the opportunity now to play a full season and just get out there and play some ball.”

The once familiar linebacking trio of Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Nick Roach now has only Briggs returning this season.

“Lance has been a staple here for many years, a great player, a Hall of Fame player. He has a lot of knowledge and he is a play-maker. Whenever I do have a question, he is able to answer for me,” said Williams, who has played in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense in the past.

“Most (teams) play the same defenses, just different terminology. But I'm playing a different position. I played (middle) linebacker before. Now I just have to get used to the reads and the position.”

With a new team and coaching staff, Williams is confident it will not take him long to get up to speed with the Bears’ way of doing things.

“Things are going pretty well. I’ve gotten in a few extra days with the coaches and the defense,” Williams said. “Football is football."

Williams, who started his college career as a fullback at Miami, was drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2004. He has 20.5 career sacks. In 2007 as a middle linebacker he was credited with 106 tackles and in 2010 he had 94 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a left inside linebacker.

“I'm a physical player," he said. "I run to the ball and cover (on pass plays). I consider myself able to do just about everything.”

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D.J. Williams calls replacing No. 54 'a great challenge'

New Bears middle linebacker D.J. Williams officially signed his one-year deal with the team just the other day. He said he's ready for the "challenge" of replacing longtime linebacker Brian Urlacher.

"I see it as a great challenge," Williams said in a statement released by his publicist on Monday. "I think it's a great opportunity for me to get to Chicago and play. I'm not trying to be anybody else or make anyone forget about Urlacher. He's a great player, a Hall of Fame player, and a guy I looked up to. I just can't wait to get there and gel with the team and do my best."

Williams' one-year deal could reach $1.75 million. He was signed just two days after the Bears announced they couldn't reach an "accord" with Urlacher.

Williams, who turns 31 in July, was a tackling machine for the Denver Broncos since being drafted in the first round in 2004 out of Miami. In his career, he has 816 tackles, 20½ sacks, 13 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 38 pass breakups and two interceptions.

The nine-year veteran also spoke to the Bears' website on Monday.

"[Urlacher] was a great player," Williams said. "I watched him as a young player in college and was able to be in the league with him. I'm not trying to fill his shoes, even though I probably will be playing his position. Our games are different, so I'm not trying to be him. I'm just trying to be me."

Williams said he feels privileged to be joining a franchise with a history of defensive success and known for its star linebackers.

"To come here and be part of a team that loves defense in a city that loves defense," Williams said. "I'm just grateful and I love the opportunity. I'm excited about it."

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D.J WIliams a Low-Risk, High-Reward Signing

When the Bears broke off negotiations with Brian Urlacher and signed D.J. Williams, you weren't the only Bears fan who wondered what the heck they were thinking at Halas Hall. Though he was aging, Urlacher was a known entity. Williams, on the other hand, spent much of his 2012 as a Bronco on the bench because of two different suspensions.

Why would they make such a move?

Now, the particulars of his contract have come out, and it's clear why the Bears went with Williams. Financially, he is a low-risk, high-reward player.

Not one cent of Williams' contract is guaranteed. If he makes the team, he gets a base salary of $900,000. He also gets a bonus for every game he makes the 53-man roster and another bonus for every game he makes the 46-man, active roster. He can make a total of $750,000 in bonuses if he makes every game, and another $100,000 for off-season workouts.

It's simple. If Williams wants to make money, he will perform. He can't be suspended or fall behind. He knows he has one job in Chicago. It's not replacing Urlacher, just being the best he can at middle linebacker.

"Perform; that's it," he said to the Bears' website. "If you go out there and perform and do well and help your team win, fans will love you. If you go out there and stink it up, you're going to get that type of criticism."

He also said his problems from last season helped him realize how important football is to him.

"It was frustrating. It also humbles you and shows you how much you really do love the game and how important it is to you."

Now, he'll have the chance to show his love on the field in a season that is basically a one-year audition for Williams. He can play well, make a lot of money and show he is worthy of an NFL contract.

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Bears taking chance on DJ Williams

The Bears are gambling that troubled D.J. Williams, a first-round pick in 2004, can replace eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher — at least for this year.

It's a fairly safe financial bet for the Bears because none of the money in Williams' $1.75 million ($900,000 base), one-year deal is guaranteed. The former Broncos starter, 30, will have to avoid additional transgressions to get paid and get his career back on track. He was suspended for nine games last season, losing six games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs and three additional games for a second arrest on charges of driving while ability-impaired.

The 6-foot-1, 242-pound Williams was due to make $6 million if the Broncos, who drafted him 17th overall, had not cut him last week. He started just one game last season and played in only seven. But the former Miami Hurricane has started 115 games in the NFL, at weak-side, strong-side and middle linebacker. He's expected to play in the middle for the Bears.

"We are happy to welcome D.J. to the Bears and are excited to start working with him," Bears general manager Phil Emery said on the team's website. "This is a great opportunity for D.J. to restart his career after coming off suspension.

"We see a player that has very good athletic upside who can contribute immediately at Mike (middle) linebacker. He is also a versatile player who has played both outside linebacker positions, giving us flexibility in the draft."

Along with quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall, Williams is the third former Denver starter to join the Bears.

While he lacks Urlacher's size, Williams has excellent range and instincts, which allow him to make plays sideline to sideline in the running game and to be effective dropping into pass coverage, an Urlacher strength when he was in his prime.

Urlacher and the Bears decided Wednesday to part company on less-than-ideal terms when the team refused to offer him more than $2 million on a one-year contract.

Urlacher said it was only "30 seconds" after his agent was told by the Bears they would not re-sign him that the team announced it on Twitter.

"I would have appreciated a call from, maybe not (general manager) Phil (Emery), but (team chairman) George (McCaskey) or somebody else I've been around," Urlacher said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on WMVP 1000-AM. "I haven't been around Phil; he's been here for one year, so I don't know him all that well, but (a call) from somebody else in the organization I've been around for a long time (would have been nice)."

From 2004-11, Urlacher had 601 tackles, according to STATS LLC; Williams had 611, the most in the NFL. Both players had 20½ sacks over those eight years, and Urlacher had 50 stuffs, while Williams had 41½. A stuff, according to STATS LLC, is a tackle for no gain or a loss. Only three players had 600 tackles, 40 stuffs and 20 sacks from 2004-11. The other was Karlos Dansby, who was cut by the Dolphins last week.

The Bears are still expected to give serious consideration to selecting a linebacker in the draft. Weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs is 32, Williams is 30 and the Bears have lost linebackers Nick Roach (to the Raiders) and Geno Hayes (Jaguars) in free agency.

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Bears sign D.J. Williams

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears signed former Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams to a one-year contract Friday.

After offering longtime middle linebacker Brian Urlacher a one-year, $2 million contract that he refused, the Bears got Williams for a base salary of $900,000, the Chicago Tribune reported. He can earn a maximum of $1.75 million if he reaches all his incentives.

"We are happy to welcome D.J. to the Bears and are excited to start working with him," Bears general manager Phil Emery said in a statement. "This is a great opportunity for D.J. to restart his career after coming off suspension for part of the 2012 season. We see a player that has very good athletic upside who can contribute immediately at 'Mike' (middle) linebacker. He is also a versatile player who has played both outside linebacker positions, giving us flexibility in the draft."

Williams spent nine years in Denver where he started 115 regular-season games and registered a career-best 141 tackles in 2007. The 30-year-old veteran has played both middle and outside linebacker.

He appeared in just seven games last season with one start after being suspended nine games by the NFL for two separate incidents. He was suspended the first six games of the 2012 season for violating the league's banned-substances policy after the league said he supplied a "non-human" urine sample during a drug test.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tacked on an additional three-game suspension after Williams was found in violation of the league's substance abuse policy when a jury convicted him of driving while impaired in a case that dated to November 2010. That incident was the second time Williams had been arrested under the suspicion of driving while impaired. He previously pleaded guilty to a charge in 2005, and the Broncos stripped him of his captainship.

The Broncos released Williams in the offseason to avoid paying him a $6 million salary in 2013.

The Bears had a clear need at linebacker after the club allowed Urlacher and fellow starter Nick Roach to leave via free agency. The Bears broke off contract negotiations with Urlacher on Wednesday.

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Broncos Release D.J. Williams After 9 Seasons

DENVER (CBS4/AP) – D.J. Williams is no longer a Bronco. The team released him on Monday, a day before the start of the NFL’s free agency period.

Williams was tied with Champ Bailey as the longest tenured member of the team. Williams, an alum of the University of Miami, was drafted by the Broncos in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft with the No. 17 pick.

Williams had to sit out the first nine gameslb_icon1 of last season while serving two consecutive suspensions. One six game suspension was for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and the other was for an alcohol-related arrest.

Linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking took on bigger roles in Williams’ absence.

Over the years with the Broncos Williams started at the weakside, middle, strongside and inside linebacker.

“We appreciate the contributions made by D.J. Williams during his time with the Broncos. He was a solid player with this team for a number of years, showing a lot of versatility at linebacker. Our organization wishes D.J. all the best going forward,” John Elway said in a prepared statement.

Williams turns 31 this summer and is sure to draw interest on the open market but he is coming off a season in which he collected just 14 tackles in seven games and only made one start because of his two suspensions that cost him about $4 million in salary and relegated him to playing on special teams and in sub packages upon his return in November.

The Broncos released the following statistics about Williams’ career to date in the NFL:

- 127 career regular-season games
- 115 starts
- 886 tackles (673 solo)
- 20.5 sacks
- Two interceptions
- 41 passes defensed
- 14 forced fumbles
- Seven fumble recoveries.
- Opened five-of-six postseason contestslb_icon1 for the Broncos, contributing 40 tackles (23 solo), 0.5 sacks (3.5 avg.) and three passes defensed
- One of just five NFL players during the last nine seasons to post at least 800 tackles and 20 sacks

The Broncos also released third quarterback Caleb Hanie, who didn’t take a single snap in his one season in Denver last year behind Peyton Manning and his backup, rookie Brock Osweiler.

The Broncos also have asked Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil to take a pay cut. If not, he’ll be traded or released before Saturday when his $12 million salary for 2013 becomes guaranteed. Dumervil is also due $10 million in 2014 and $8 million in 2015.

If Dumervil follows Williams out the door, the Broncos will have some big shoes to fill on a defense that was one of the NFL’s stingiest last season.

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D.J. Williams unlikely to return to Broncos next season

Q: Plenty of people chime in about which free agents or draft picks the Broncos might sign, but ... which Broncos players do you see leaving this season, from retirement, free agency, trades or cuts?

A: Jim, certainly when you talk about familiar faces who are expected to play elsewhere in the coming season, linebacker D.J. Williams comes to mind for the Broncos.

Williams is headed into his 10th season. He has had some off-the-field troubles. His playing time has diminished. And he has had knee and shoulder injuries along the way. Williams is also headed into the last year of the five-year, $32 million deal the team signed him to in 2009.

A look at the figures shows his contract also has an $8.08 million salary-cap hit that includes a $6 million base salary. Those figures are far too big for a player who was on the field for spot duty only last season after he returned from back-to-back suspensions that kept him out of nine games.

If Williams is released — the Broncos will try to see if there is a trade market for him first — there would be some "dead" money from the contract on their salary cap for this season (charges that count when the player is no longer on the roster). Williams would still count $2.0825 million against the cap if he were released, but they would still pick up $6 million in salary-cap room along the way.

The Broncos aren't in a position to release anyone they see as a key contributor because they have managed their cap situation well, even with a signing like Peyton Manning last season.

They have very little dead money on the books for 2013 — just under $1 million worth of dead-money charges.

All of that means the Broncos can make football decisions when looking at their roster instead of being forced to make only salary-cap decisions. They can re-sign the free agents they'd like to keep.

At some point they would approach veterans like Champ Bailey and Elvis Dumervil about re-configuring their contracts if they feel like they need some additional salary-cap relief in some way. The Broncos have already talked to Dumervil's representatives. Dumervil ($13.623 million) and Bailey ($10.5 million) have the second- and third-highest cap figures on the team, respectively, after Manning.

Bailey's deal runs through 2014 and includes a roster bonus this year for $500,000. Dumervil's deal runs through 2015.

Overall, they have 12 unrestricted free agents. Among that list not expected to be back is defensive tackle Ty Warren. Warren played just five plays with most of two seasons spent on injured reserve.

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D.J. Williams isn’t expected back with Broncos

Linebacker D.J. Williams has had a long run with the Broncos, but it appears to be coming to an end after nine seasons.

Mike Klis of the Denver Post expects that Williams will be a starting linebacker in 2013, but that there’s no chance that he’ll be filling that role on the Broncos defense. Williams is set to make $6 million (and count the same against the salary cap) in the 2013 season, a number Klis believes is too big for a Broncos team that moved on without Williams while missed nine games in 2012 serving two different suspensions.

It’s expected that the Broncos will try to trade Williams when the league opens for business on March 12, although the $6 million salary probably doesn’t look any better to other teams than it does to the Broncos. If they can’t swing a trade, the Broncos are expected to cut Williams loose before they start their offseason program in mid-April.

Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard and Nate Irving are the projected starters at linebacker for Denver in 2013.

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Broncos Ready To Part Ways With DJ Williams?

There also is the matter of middle linebacker, where Keith Brooking is 37 and an unrestricted free agent. The Broncos are poised to either part ways with D.J. Williams or ask him to take a significant pay cut.

Williams was a situational player only after he returned from nine games' worth of suspensions. He is due to make $6 million in the upcoming season. That's too rich for his output.

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D.J. Williams Drops By Sims Fayola International Academy For A Visit

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams brightened the day of studentsicon1 at a Denver school.

Williams visited Sims Fayola International Academy Wednesday morning. The all-boys academy aims to help minority and low-income males.

Williams has been a long time supporter of the schoolicon1. He is currently working with Sims Fayola on the construction of a new library facility.

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D.J. Williams Was Worried About Fitting In After Serving Suspensions

DENVER (CBS4) – Next up on the Broncos’ demolition list are the Baltimore Ravens, who just came off a heartbreaking loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Sometimes a hard loss can pump a team up, but linebacker D.J. Williams said still he’s glad the Ravens lost.

“Baltimore has been playing very, very well this year. They kind of had a hiccup last week, but each week, week to week, things can be different,” Williams said on Xfinity Monday Live! “I’m glad that they lost because now it puts us in the hunt to get that first round bye. We’re neck and neck with New England, so I’m kind of happy it happened.”

He said even though the Ravens could be a little bit desperate and angry, they also could have low morale.

Williams had to sit out the first nine games of the season while serving two consecutive suspensions. He said when he came back to the team he was a little worried about how he would fit in with the defense that has been playing great.

“Honestly, I was worried, but I’m glad the defense was playing well,” Williams said. “The major thing for me was to come back in shape. Once you come back in shape the coaches will weed you in and find a place for you.”

He said he also had great support from his teammates while serving the suspensions.

“I talked to the guys on a weekly basis and I watched every game. It was kind of different. I got to be a fan for a little bit.”

Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has been getting a lot of credit for the success of the defense, and Williams said it took a little bit of an adjustment from the scheme he was used to playing in.

“It’s a different defense, but I like it, I enjoy it. I like what Coach Del Rio is doing. He plays to people’s strength, you know, he puts a package in for everybody so everybody is happy. That’s why guys are flying around.”

Williams said since Del Rio was a former linebacker, it’s easier for the coach to relate to him.

“It’s always great to have a coach who’s played the game because it’s not just “X”s and “O”s,” he said. “Sometimes complicated things happen on the field and if you’ve actually been out there and have experienced it, you know what the player is telling you.”

Williams said another reason for the defense’s success is the diversity of the players.

“We can do it all. We can rush the passer, we can stop the run, we’ve got (defensive backs) who can cover,” he said. “Del Rio is putting guys in position to make plays.”

The Broncos travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens on Sunday. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. on CBS4.

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DJ Williams to Start for Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are in the midst of a short week as they prepare to take on the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night. The good news is the Broncos are relatively healthy heading into the matchup with one notable exception. Starting strong side linebacker Wesley Woodyard is unlikely to play due to an ankle injury suffered in the win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For everyone wondering why the Broncos hung on to DJ Williams despite his off the field issues; this is why. Williams will start if Woodyard can’t go on Thursday night. No one including the Broncos likes the off the field issues with Williams but having him as a backup is a great luxury. Woodyard is having a Pro Bowl caliber season and no one is saying he won’t be missed, but the Broncos defense will be fine with Williams in the starting lineup.

Despite all of his nonsense, Williams is well liked and respected in the locker room and has not been a distraction since returning from his suspension. On the contrary, he has played in any role that he’s been asked to play and has not disrupted the chemistry by demanding that he be inserted into the starting lineup. Williams will get a start this week but it does not appear that he will eventually replace Keith Brooking as many thought, the defense is just playing too well. It would be a mistake to mess with the starting lineup at this late date; unless it is due to injury.

In the long run, Williams will continue to play in certain situations as he has since coming back. For one week though, Williams will be in the starting lineup versus the Raiders and the defense won’t miss a beat.

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DJ Williams Glad to be Back

DENVER – For linebacker D.J. Williams, there’s a big difference between merely being around the game and strapping on the helmet and shoulder pads for live action.

“It’s 100 percent better,” Williams said. “When you’re just in the locker room, one of the guys, you kind of feel like you don’t deserve things until you get out there and actually produce and help your team win.”

After serving a nine-game suspension to open the season, Sunday night’s win over the Chargers marked Williams’ first taste of the gridiron since Jan. 14, the final game of the Broncos’ 2011 campaign. Head Coach John Fox said Williams’ effort to stay in shape throughout the suspension paid dividends.

“I thought he had a great week of preparation,” Fox said. “The guy obviously worked diligently while he was away from us so we were very happy to have him back. He made a mistake, paid his dues and without looking at the tape, I know he made a good play on a run through over toward their bench.”

Williams said the best part of suiting up again was the familiar feeling of sharing the field with his teammates.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “I’ve been playing football 17 years of my life, it’s basically all I know. It feels great to be in the locker room, the camaraderie with the guys, just go out there, go to war and go to battle and come home with the victory.”

Despite the long break from the game at a position as physical as linebacker, Williams did not feel any ill effects of his time away in his return, saying that if anything, he would have liked to absorb a few more hits.

“I feel good,” Williams said. “I feel like I could do a little bit more, but that’s up to the coaches. They’re working me in slowly. The way it is here, we have to earn the play. So just keep grinding in practice and hopefully I can get out there more.”

Veteran cornerback Champ Bailey, who is tied with Williams as the longest-tenured Bronco, said it’s hard to get back up to speed after extended time away. But from what Bailey saw, Williams looked anything but rusty.

“Working him in the mix today, that was beautiful for us,” Bailey said. “You don’t know what to expect, really, because he’s been out so long. But, he did exactly what I kind of expected. Nobody else knew it, but I know what type of person he is and how much he wants it. I’m just happy for him, we got it done and hopefully we can expand his role.”

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Broncos wasted no time getting D.J. Williams into the lineup

The Broncos worked D.J. Williams into the lineup quickly. He was in uniform against San Diego in the first game after his reinstatement from two suspensions.
And Williams entered Sunday's game against San Diego on the fourth defensive snap — it was when the Broncos went to the nickel (five defensive backs) for the first time in the game. Williams lined up alongside Wesley Woodyard in the two linebacker spots in that formation.

That was Williams' role, for the most part, in the defense for the remainder in the game and he was in the lineup primarily on first or second down (he had 15 snaps in that situation).

When the Broncos faced a more open formation from the Chargers offense, like a three-wide receiver set, or were in third-down or other long-yardage situations, they put rookie Danny Trevathan next to Woodyard in the nickel.

The Broncos like Trevathan's abilities in coverage while Williams gives them a little more bulk in the middle of the field on early downs, when a running play is more of an option for an offense. That figures to be the rotation in the near future.

The Broncos also used a four-linebacker set for a selection of snaps Sunday with Williams in the game and he also played in the team's short-yardage unit that was used against the Chargers in some third-and-short looks. In all Williams played 21 snaps.

The Broncos said they didn't have concerns about Williams' conditioning Sunday that he had done the work in his time away and it showed by how quickly they worked him in.

"He was pumped up and ready to go" — is how Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey put it — "It was like he never left."

Before Williams was suspended, the expectation at that point was that he would be a starter with Woodyard as his backup on the weak-side — the defensive side away from the offense's tight end. But Woodyard now leads the team in tackles and Sunday alone had eight tackles, to go with an interception, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.

His three interceptions also lead the team.

And Von Miller is in the hunt for Defensive Player of the Year honors, so Williams isn't moving Woodyard or Miller out of the lineup. He could, if the Broncos like his progress, move into the middle in the base defense in place of Keith Brooking.

But that scenario is unlikely given after Williams started at middle linebacker for the Broncos in 2007 — he had a career-best 170 tackles that season — he often said following the season he believed he was better suited at one of the outside spots in a 4-3 defense.

Fox and Del Rio have each praised Brooking's anticipation and preparation as well, so it's difficult to see how moving him out of the base defense is something they would want to do at this point. As always injuries could force their hands in some fashion, but Williams is likely a rotation player right now.

"I'm just glad to be back in there," Williams said. "When you're just in the locker room you really don't feel like you deserve to be there until you can go out and contribute in some way."

The Chiefs, for all of their offensive failings this year, most notably turnovers and quarterback play, do have the No. 4 rushing attack in the league this season - 145.4 yards per game - and they are also fourth in the league in rushing attempts, at 31.9 per game, so Williams would see more snaps in those early-down nickel packages this coming Sunday than he did in the win over the Chargers.

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D.J. Williams makes impact vs. Chargers

Although their expected playing time for Sunday had been described as "uncertain," Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil and linebacker D.J. Williams didn't just get their feet wet in the Broncos' victory over San Diego.

The pair all but face-planted Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in the turf.

"We have a lot of energy out there and we're having fun," Dumervil said of the Broncos' defense. "There's so many guys contributing. We felt like the whole game on defense, we were going to do the job."

Broncos coaches had said during the week they didn't know how many snaps Dumervil or Williams would get. After all, Dumervil had sprained his left shoulder the previous weekend in the victory at Carolina and sat out the final 2 ½ quarters of that game.

And Williams, everybody figured, would have to knock off a thick layer of rust, having sat out the first nine games because of two NFL suspensions.
As it turned out, both played a pivotal role in forcing Rivers into a frustrating afternoon.

Dumervil, whose availability for Sunday's game had been listed as "questionable," was in the opening lineup and did not look the worse for wear. He recorded six tackles (tied for third most on the team), a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a sack.

"I've been in situations before where I had to play with pain," Dumervil said. "I don't like it. But you got to go. The team needs me, and I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team."

Dumervil's sack and forced fumble came on the final play of the game and prevented Rivers from attempting any kind of "Hail Mary" pass, with the Chargers down by a touchdown.

"There's so many guys contributing," Dumervil said. "We felt like the whole game on defense, we were going to do the job."

Williams entered the lineup on the game's fourth snap and immediately became part of the regular rotation. He finished with four tackles and a tackle for loss.
"I thought D.J. had a great week of preparation," Broncos coach John Fox said. "The guy obviously worked diligently while he was away from us."

If Williams felt rusty at all, it couldn't have been evident to the Chargers. A former University of Miami star, Williams spent the early part of the season working out in South Florida. Then, a few weeks before his suspension was lifted, he moved back to Denver to adjust to altitude.

"I have to credit my conditioning — the strength and conditioning coaches here," Williams said. "They helped keep me focused."

Often, Williams and his former backup, Wesley Woodyard, were in the lineup together. For the past few years, both played weakside linebacker, but it came as no surprise that the Broncos found a way to have them in the lineup at the same time.

Woodyard tops the Broncos in tackles (85), including eight on Sunday.

"We played together, and it was great," Woodyard said of Williams. "D.J. went out there and made some plays. That's what it's all about. A team needs to put the best players in the best places to make plays."

Nose tackle Kevin Vickerson said the Broncos' defense is developing an identity.

"We're playing fast," Vickerson said. "Everybody is playing together and playing fast. And everybody is being accountable to the guy next to him. I think that's been a major reason we're playing so well."

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D.J. Williams absorbs big salary hit with suspension

For his first practice of the 2012 season Wednesday, Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams appeared to be in great shape, as well-conditioned as ever.

No wonder. He's far lighter in the wallet.

According to Williams' freshly revised contract that was filed with the players' union, his offseason transgressions will cost him between $3.35 million and $4.05 million, depending on his playing time in the Broncos' final seven games of the season.

Williams was supposed to draw a $5 million base salary this year. That was before he received a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancement policy followed by a three-game suspension for an alcohol offense.

Williams' new base salary for the final seven games is $950,000. He also can receive a $100,000 bonus for each game he is on the Broncos' 46-man game-day roster.

If Williams is active for the final seven games, he will receive $1.65 million in combined salary and bonuses this season.

Given the game-day incentive and Williams' supreme condition, don't be surprised if he is active for the Broncos' pivotal AFC West divisional game Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

"I thought today was an excellent first day," Broncos coach John Fox said of Williams.

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DJ Williams Has A Good First Day

LB D.J. Williams practiced for the first time since completing the second of a pair of suspensions that cost him nine games.

"He definitely has been working," Broncos coach John Fox said. "I think he's been over in (the weight room and conditioning area at Broncos headquarters) getting ready physically and been paying attention in meetings. He had a good first day."

It's still unclear where Williams will fit in the Broncos' plans, but it's a good bet that he'll be on the 53-man roster and active Sunday, since the Broncos waived S Duke Ihenacho Tuesday to free a spot. The Broncos could have retained Williams' rights while not adding him to the active roster until Monday.

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D.J. Williams ready to help Broncos

D.J. Williams’ season is about to begin. He knows he will have to shake the rust, but he’s not worried about it or whatever role the Denver Broncos will have for him.

The veteran linebacker is just happy to be back. Williams is able to practice with the Broncos again now that his two-tiered nine game NFL suspension has been lifted. He received a six-game suspension for using a banned substance and he received another three-game suspension for his second alcohol-related legal conviction in seven years.

“Definitely. Without being out there for a long time, there will be some rust,” Williams told reporters Monday. “Football is a great sport to come back to, because when in doubt, just hit somebody.”

The Broncos haven’t said what their plan for Williams is, but he is expected to be eased back into the lineup because of the rust and because the starting linebackers are playing well. Still Williams should help in the stretch run and in the postseason if the Broncos -- who are 6-3 and lead the AFC West by two games -- advance. Williams said he's open to help the team in any way it wants him to.

“I have no idea. That’s up to the coaching staff to decide,” Williams said. “I would like to jump out there Day 1, but you’ve got to earn the respect of your teammates, earn your spot back, so I’ll just be patiently waiting.”

Sounding contrite, Williams said he realized Denver could have parted ways with him.

“I’m very thankful (to be back),” Williams said. “They could have went a different route and they decided to keep me around. I’m thankful of that. Now that I’m back, I’ll just do what I have to do to help the team win.”

Williams is a good player, but he's been a major distraction to Denver for quite some time now. He owes it to the team to stay focused and help an already good defense become better.

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D.J. Williams returns to an uncertain role

Broncos LB D.J. Williams spent most of the calendar year dealing with trouble that he brought upon himself, from a March violation of the league's PED policy to tweeting a picture of a formation from the Broncos' iPad-based playbook in June to an August conviction on charges of driving while ability impaired.

The playbook tweet was harmless, but the other two resulted in six- and three-game suspension that kept him out until Monday, when he officially returned to the roster and tried to strike a conciliatory tone.

"I did the crime, gotta do the time, but it's over with now," Williams said. "Hopefully I can move on and help my team continue to keep winning."

Williams has been at team headquarters the last three weeks, as the three-game suspension for the DWAI conviction -- his second alcohol-related offense since joining the Broncos in 2004 -- permitted him to be at team headquarters to receive guidance from club officials. It also gave him the chance to work out with the team's strength coaches, which might help him get back up to speed more quickly.

"I wouldn't say that I'm ready to go 70, 80 plays, but I'm in pretty good shape," Williams said. "I've been back here the last few weeks working out with the strength coaches here and getting the altitude in my lungs, things like that. So, you know, I feel pretty good."

Where Williams fits is up in the air. The Broncos' defense has steadily improved this season, particularly against the run. The shift of Keith Brooking from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker gave Wesley Woodyard the every-down job on the weak side, and he responded with some of the best play of his career and earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 8. Brooking, meanwhile, has stabilized the run defense after it struggled with Joe Mays at middle linebacker, has been a calming influence and has made few mistakes.

The Broncos have allowed just six touchdowns in the last 14 quarters of play, so they may not want to fix what isn't broken, which would leave Williams struggling for playing time, since Woodyard has flourished in Williams' previous role on the weak side.

"You know, I hope sooner or later, I could get back to the role that I had before I left," Williams said. "But I realize it's going to be difficult just to jump back into that but you know I'm ready to go whenever they throw me out there."

At the same time, if Williams is limited to rotational work, he would provide also give a gargantuan upgrade to the quality of their depth, since Williams has been a starter throughout his previous eight seasons. He also gives the Broncos another option in covering opposing tight ends, something they have failed to do well in recent weeks, having allowed consecutive 100-yard games to Cincinnati's Jermaine Gresham and Carolina's Greg Olsen the last fortnight and five touchdowns to various tight ends in their last four games.

"I know what D.J. can do. He's a playmaker. He's a physical, hard-nosed football player," S Rahim Moore said.

"He'll be a little rusty, but once he gets his legs underneath him, sheds a few blocks, makes a few hits and makes some plays, it's the same old D.J. that they drafted him to be."

Williams barely practiced during training camp as the Broncos opted to give Woodyard and rookies Danny Trevathan and Steven Johnson extra repetitions to bring them up to speed. Thus, he not only has to knock off the rust of the suspension, but of the six weeks of relative inactivity, when he was often consigned to an auxiliary field, running wind sprints.

"I don't know about that," Broncos coach John Fox said when asked about whether Williams would be rusty on his return. "Your guess is as good as mine. I'm just looking forward to seeing where he's at.

"I haven't seen him since the end of last season," Fox added. "I just know a season ago he was arguably our best linebacker and we'll work him back in."
No matter what his role is, his teammates were generally pleased to have him back.

"As a friend, I'm happy to see him back," Moore said. "He's smiling a lot more; that's a good thing."

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D.J. Williams returns from two suspensions, reports for duty

In one way, D.J. Williams is lucky. He didn't lose his job for failing a performance-enhancement drug test and receiving an alcohol-related driving conviction in the past year.

Then again in another way, Williams received a harsher punishment than most civilians because he is an elite professional athlete.

"I did the crime, got to do the time," Williams said Monday in front of his Broncos locker. "But it's over with now and hopefully I can help my team continue to keep winning."

A Broncos starting linebacker since the team selected him in the first round of the 2004 draft, Williams was suspended through the first nine games this season. The Broncos are 6-3 having won their last four.

Williams, 30, missed the first six games for failing the league's performance-enhancement drug test that was administered in the weeks following the 2011 lockout. He then received a second suspension for three games after he was convicted by a Denver jury on Aug. 15 on a charge of driving while ability impaired.

Williams was reinstated Monday and is expected to be formally added to the Broncos' 53-man roster in the next day or two.

"During the whole time I learned a lot about myself, my true character," Williams said. "(During the) 2 ½ months I was really by myself. Alone. Working out. Had to be dedicated and stay concentrated."

During his six-week suspension, Williams worked out at the University of Miami, his alma mater. He was able to work out at the Broncos' facility during his three-week suspension.

When his lost salary, restructured contract and bonus payback are counted up, Williams will have lost not only the first nine games of the Broncos' season, but also close to $4 million.

"I'd rather have the money in my pocket than to be rested," Williams said. "But the season is a long grind and the positive thing about it is my body is rested compared to previous years."

Do not expect Williams to immediately return as a starting linebacker. As a condition for his return, he agreed to a reduction in salary for the remainder of the season. He figures to spend the first week or two getting back in game shape. It's unclear whether he will regain his starting job with weakside linebacker Wesley Woodyard and middle linebacker Keith Brooking playing well.

"There will be some rust but football is a great sport to come back to because when in doubt just hit somebody," Williams said. "I would like to jump out there Day One but you've got to earn the respect of your teammates and earn your spot back. I'll just be patient and wait."

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D.J. Williams to return to team Monday

CHARLOTTE N.C. — D.J. Williams will officially return Monday to the Broncos after the two sides recently agreed to a restructuring of his contract.

Williams, who had been a starting linebacker since the Broncos selected him with their first-round draft pick in 2004, had already lost nearly $3 million in salary this year as part of his penalty for serving two suspensions that prevented him from playing in the team's first nine games this year.

"All I can say is DJ's a friend of mine and I know what he brings to the table on Sundays and I can't wait to have him back," said Broncos defensive tackle Justin Bannan.

Williams, 30, was first suspended six games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancement policy. He received a second suspension for three games after he was convicted by a Denver jury on August 15 for an alcohol driving offense that was in violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

Besides the three-game penalty administered by the league office for his driving while ability impaired conviction, Williams was ordered by the court to serve 30 days in home detention following the Super Bowl .

Given the considerable time he has missed — Broncos coach John Fox decided not to have him participate in training camp or preseason games so he could instead give reps and playing time to others — Williams is expected to use the first week or two getting back in playing shape.

He has started at all three linebacker positions.

Williams contract originally had him making $5 million this year and $6 million in 2013. He forfeited $100,000 off the top this season because he was not on the Week 1 roster, and he then went unpaid through the first 10 weeks (nine games plus the bye week) of a 17-game season.

That dropped his remaining 2012 salary to $2.017 million. The restructuring cost him a few more dollars.

Make no mistake, Williams has paid a steep price for his mistakes.

"I'm sure people on the outside have beaten him up a little bit, but I know who he is and I've got a lot of respect for him," Bannan said. "I mean we're all human beings and nobody's perfect. People do make mistakes. We've all been there, we've all made mistakes. That's life. All I can do is speak for my relationship with D.J. and I'll play with that guy any day because I know how hard he plays on Sundays." Mike Klis, The Denver Post

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D.J. Williams opens up publicly

Criminal. Thug. Cheater. Liar. Overall bad guy. Those are just some of the less-than-flattering words used to describe Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams in recent months.

This morning, Williams is only 10 days away from returning from a nine-game (combined) suspension for a failed drug test and a DWAI conviction stemming from a November 2010 arrest. Williams, a 2004 first-round pick who’s led the Broncos in tackles in five of his eight seasons coming into 2012, may be considered a success on the field, but his all-too consistent off-field troubles have sparked controversy at best, hatred at worst and down-the-center disappointment for most.

Part of the harsh judgment comes from several questionable actions, but Williams is also notoriously difficult to deal with for the media. Reporters looking for a quote from the now-30-year-old University of Miami product are always turned down, some politely and most rather bluntly. And Williams’ disconnect with the media has unquestionably helped shape a strongly negative perception of the talented-yet-troubled linebacker.

Starting with his first DUI conviction in September 2005, a second DUI arrest in November 2010 (lowered to a DWAI in an August conviction), and wrapping up with two failed drug tests in 2011 and the subsequent nine-game suspension that he’s currently serving, the 17th overall pick in the 2004 draft is in the doghouse of many Broncos fans for a number of transgressions. And his previous media silence only appears to have alienated him further.

But on Thursday night, Williams opened up publicly with the media for the first time in more than two years, talking about his troubled past, his uncertain future and how he’s dealing with the present.

“It’s hard to open up to people that you don’t know,” Williams exclusively told Mile High Sports from his kitchen table, appearing relaxed and speaking far beyond the allotted half-hour scheduled interview. “That’s not me. That’s not my personality. I don’t talk to people I don’t know genuinely.”

Williams spoke candidly on a smorgasbord of topics for nearly a full hour on Thursday, discussing everything from his heavily criticized social media antics to his desire to retire as a Bronco and his “Dyme Lyfe” lifestyle.

On social media – often the source of several of Williams’ headaches over the years – and Dyme Lyfe, which is closely related to his Twitter account (@DJWilliam55), Williams was particularly candid.

If you were to glance at his Twitter account, you’d find frequent references to Dyme Lyfe and retweets, or mentions, from various fans wearing t-shirts and other clothing sporting the two words that have taken on a life of their own. Despite little mention of the exact definition of what exactly it means, the “Dyme Lyfe” has gradually developed a negative connotation among some fans and the media.

Williams helped spearhead the Dyme Lyfe movement two years ago with then-Broncos teammates Ronald Fields and Marcus Thomas as a means to positively get through a difficult 4-12 season in 2010. Holding up a pinky, ring and middle finger and using the same hand’s thumb and index fingers to form a circle, most outsiders might interpret the hand gesture as an “okay” sign. However, many critics have taken it as either a gang symbol or a reference to smoking marijuana, a claim Williams vehemently denies. Instead, he said it was simply a way for the three teammates to stay positive.

“It has nothing to do with anything negative,” Williams said. “It has nothing to do with smoking marijuana. We have a creed. It’s a select few who focus on bonding, and building relationships with each other and indulging in the finer things in life, and never, I repeat, never, press for attention or accept it. That’s what ‘Dyme Lyfe’ means; it’s almost like paying something forward. It’s not treating somebody like you’d treat yourself; it’s far beyond that.”

But Williams’ prolonged silence about the subject helped allow the stories and rumors about the Dyme Lyfe’s true origin to circulate. And like a bad game of telephone, stories tend to get worse over time.

His Twitter-related problems don’t end there, however. When Williams tweeted that he was going out to party after the Broncos lost an October 2010 game to the 49ers in London, he was vilified on Twitter. He took exception to the criticism.

“Fans don’t understand. You’re mad, you had a five-dollar wager on it, you’re probably going to get teased by your friends, your work colleagues,” Williams said with a hint of anger in his voice. “(But) when we lose games, guys lose jobs, livelihoods; guys who are married who have wives and kids. We’re talking about multi-millions (of) dollars being lost. So for someone to think that someone who lost a game is not upset is foolish. Just because their actions after a game are different than some other people is foolish. We have a saying in the locker room, ‘Hold on to this one for the day and get it over with, and get ready for the next one.’ Just because a guy goes straight home after a win or loss doesn’t mean that he cared about something more than me. And I know the perception of it, but guys release and get rid of stress in different ways.”

Williams’ public reputation perhaps reached its all-time low in June, when the Sacramento native tweeted a picture of the Broncos’ playbook on Twitter, igniting a firestorm of criticism from both fans and media, who barked at Williams for revealing preciously-held secrets of the Broncos’ playbook. But Williams – who had just been asked to switch positions for at least the fifth time in his eight-year career – said he was just trying to show fans that he was hard at work.

“My coach tells me, ‘Hey, we’re changing your position; you’ve got to learn a new position over the weekend and you’re basically going to compete against somebody who’s been doing it for two, three months. And you’re fighting for a job,’” Williams said. “So, I woke up on my day off at nine in the morning, because I always like to write things down. I went and I got flash cards. So what I did was I took every defensive call. I wrote the call down. I wrote where I set in the front. I wrote where I (lined up). I wrote what I’m doing. I wrote what everybody else is doing. I wrote every check if they go to empty.

“So I had those cards, I had 50 or 60 cards. I look on the card, the actual card that I put on the thing was (a play call). I would see how many I could get without looking at the back. And so while I was doing that, because it just was after Memorial (Day) weekend (June 8 was the day of the tweet), I went to Vegas and I had a great time, and I took pictures with my friends. Just like hundreds of other NFL players did the same thing. So I was like, ‘I’m going to show people, do something for the fans to connect and show them.’ Because they didn’t know.”

In addition, the tweeted plays (which came on a panel of six cards) were, what Williams described them as, mainstream plays that weren’t, or aren’t, secrets across the NFL.

“Every defense has this call (the one that he tweeted). Every offensive player knows it,” said Williams, who said he received numerous calls of support from teammates after the incident. “It would have been the equivalent of a basketball player posting the pick and roll.

“None of my teammates thought that I did anything wrong. A guy wrote a report talking about treason. Treason? That’s turning on your government. People get killed for treason. You get life in jail for treason. (I posted) one call, of one defense – out of 50 defenses – without our checks, without any of our conversations. So, no team could ever use that. No team could ever use that.”

Poor judgment – and not an underlying desire to conspire against or harm his own team, as many took it – were the real motifs behind Williams’ tweet.
And speaking of blunders, Williams admitted his 2010 DWAI conviction was a mistake.

“I served my punishment – sitting out nine games. You know what I mean? I’m losing $3 million. That’s what people don’t understand. Is that not enough punishment? But like I said, let my coaches, let the Denver Broncos punish me. You’re not in the locker room. You don’t know. Even with all my situations, nobody knows that absolute, deep truth about it. Like I said, wrong is wrong, and I did wrong things – but if they really knew the foundation of them, I think they would look at them in a different light.”

This didn’t – or doesn’t – solve the issue of the linebacker’s harsh public perception, but it’s certainly a start for a shy player who prefers to keep to himself.
It was simply impossible not to walk out of the 52-minute encounter with the troubled linebacker having anything but a distinct feeling that the 30-year-old was misunderstood – partially by his own doing, undoubtedly, but also by a public perception that Williams intentionally chooses not to battle. Williams was genuine – an occasional curse word served as the perfect periodic reminder that he was speaking from the heart – and although he made it clear he plans to work his way back into a more favorable public perception, it won’t come quickly.

“This was a first step; I said I’d take baby steps to see how it goes,” Williams finished, before taking off to a team dinner. “But it’s just difficult because it’s not my natural personality. I don’t need to be taught how to do interviews. I’ve been doing interviews since I was 13 – about me. Anybody you can think of – Sports Illustrated, USA Today – I’ve been doing it my whole life. It’s just that, I just think of myself as a normal person. I think nobody cares about my story.”

But the truth is, people do care. And Williams’ natural personality is appealing. He doesn’t like to talk about his numerous charitable contributions (he donates turkeys every Thanksgiving, pays for uniforms for local sports teams and sponsors kids to take part in sports camps), claiming other (some) athletes do it simply for the attention. Fair enough.

Now the real question is, who will D.J. Williams be? The guy who was open, honest and transparent with me for nearly an hour. Or will he be the player whose silence has allowed imaginations and perceptions to spin violently out of control for nearly a decade, portraying Williams to be the monster he – based on our lengthy conversation – doesn’t appear to be?

The real answer is, it’s up to D.J.


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Ban about to end, Broncos LB D.J. Williams still bitter

– In his two-months-long forced absence from football, D.J. Williams has grown remorseful about his off-field errors, bored without the structure of practice and games, and bitter at the NFL.

More than anything, the Broncos' veteran linebacker – a former first-round draft pick and one of the two longest-tenured players on the team -- is just ready to return to the teammates that he knows he let down over the past several months -- teammates who have risen to first place in the AFC West without him.
I felt that the story of D.J. Williams had made a huge wrong turn. It was snowballing, and everything about it was negative," Williams said. "I'm just excited that my team is doing great, and I can't wait to get out there and help them."

Williams is about to serve the final week of his nine-game suspension, punishment handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for two violations of the NFL personal conduct policy.

The first six games of his ban were the result of a violation of the banned substance policy (the NFL said Williams submitted a "non-human" urine sample in August 2011), and three more games were added after Williams was convicted of driving while ability impaired in August, his second such offense while in the NFL.

Williams is eligible to fully rejoin the Broncos on Nov. 12, the day after Denver's game at Carolina. He said when he returns, Broncos fans will see a different player.

"I'm bigger, stronger and faster, and my attitude is a lot different. I've got a lot of anger inside, you know what I mean?" Williams said. "Some good, some bad, but I think I play the perfect sport to be angry at somebody. You get to let it out, get the frustration out."

That anger, Williams said in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY Sports Friday, is directed internally for the bad choices he made, and externally at the people who have taken shots at him in traditional and social media.

He is also angry at the NFL, he says, for botching a routine drug test.

In the hour-long interview, Williams accepted responsibility for some of the reasons he ended up in the NFL doghouse, while also defending his decision to file a lawsuit against the league for what he believes was an improper drug testing procedure.

A Denver court and an appeals court refused to hear Williams' case, and he is continuing to appeal. Williams said he turned down an offer for a three-game suspension instead of six because he didn't want to admit to doing something wrong, nor implicate anyone else.

"I thought I was dealt an unfair deal," Williams said.

Williams said he has never used steroids or other performance enhancing drug, and that over the past four years, because of his two drunken driving arrests, he was under scrutiny by the league. In that time, Williams said he had never once tested positive.

He said his physical attributes come from genetics, not a needle, and he is angry that anyone would suggest otherwise.

"There's a lot of bitterness about it. For the rest of my career, I'll have an asterisk beside my name, saying that I used performance enhancers or steroids or whatever," Williams said. "People forget that when I was 16, I was 6-2, 225. I went to (the University of) Miami at 233 (pounds). My dad is huge, my mom competes in fitness and body competition – that's the genetics that I have gotten passed on. It sucks because I'll always be questioned on my ability and what I do as if I did steroids."

Williams would not comment further on the alleged nature of the urine sample.

His punishment for the drunken-driving conviction, stemming from his arrest in November 2010, will continue after the season. He will serve 30 days of in-house arrest, during which he'll be required to wear an ankle monitor. He also will serve two years' probation, perform more than 50 hours of community service and have his sobriety monitored.

The drinking and driving "was a mistake," he said, "and I shouldn't have done it. It was very dumb."

And now that his back-to-back suspensions are nearly over, Williams is hoping he can focus on football again. He was allowed to return to team headquarters two weeks ago and resume meetings with coaches and teammates and workouts with strength coaches, though he is still barred from practices and games.
Still, there are no guarantees about Williams' future with the Broncos when his suspension ends. He is in the second-to-last year of a contract that will pay him $6 million next year, and he realizes that with off-the-field baggage and one of the biggest contracts on the team, he is by no means safe, especially now that other linebackers have played well in his absence.

To reclaim his spot, he has returned to Denver fitter than he's been at any point in his NFL career, he said, thanks to six weeks of training at the University of Miami during the first portion of his suspension. He's eager to restart "football" training – full-contact practice in pads, and doing the football-specific movements he can't recreate in the weight room, and he is confident that the talent that once made him the nation's top prep recruit and a first-round draft pick will return, at age 30.

In eight seasons, all with the Broncos, Williams started 114 games. He has 20.5 career sacks, two interceptions, 12 forced fumbled and seven fumble recoveries. His career-high in tackles came in 2007, when he had 106.

"My role will be whatever they give me, but I know that whenever I get on the field, my talent will speak for itself," Williams said. "I know that even if, say, they want to give me 15 plays a game, whether it's defense or special teams, I feel that within a matter of time, it'll be 'He's performing. He's producing. Fifteen isn't enough.'

"Why would you want to keep someone off the field that's playing and producing?"

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Broncos figure to work D.J. Williams into lineup quickly, creatively

Q: I'm as frustrated at the D.J. Williams issues as anyone, but I also recognize his talent. And given how well things are going for the Broncos now, it's exciting to think that we could be making a midseason "acquisition" of a linebacker with Williams' skills. Where do you see him fitting into the lineup and how much of an impact can he have given the amount of time missed?

A: Bill, the Broncos are frustrated with Williams' suspensions as well. But with the NFL rules regarding suspensions involving substance abuse (alcohol and/or illegal drugs, etc.), Williams has been able to attend team meetings and meetings with his position group of late.

He can also work out with the Broncos strength and conditioning staff. With his six-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy, that was not the case. Williams could not go to the Broncos' Dove Valley complex during that suspension.

During the current three-game suspension, which ends the day after the Broncos play the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Williams can be in the building. So, he won't be as far behind in terms of his conditioning and ability to work in the Broncos' new defensive scheme when he is reinstated.

He was also in training camp, so he's been around the team when things were installed.

So, if he's ready physically, and after three weeks with the team's strength and conditioning staff there is no reason he shouldn't be, Williams should be able to quickly contribute in some way.

That said, the question will be how. Wesley Woodyard has played in what was once Williams' weakside spot in the 4-3 base defense. Woodyard is the team's leading tackler and is coming off his best game as a pro with 13 tackles, a sack, forced fumble and an interception in the Broncos' win over the Saints.

To take him off the field to play Williams on the weak side doesn't make sense. And to take Von Miller out of the strong side to play Williams doesn't make sense, though when Williams sent some items from the playbook on Twitter in the preseason about his "position change," it had to do with the strongside spot.

The Broncos like what Keith Brooking has done at middle linebacker. Williams has started a full season at each of the three linebacker spots in a 4-3 defense during his career with the Broncos, but in the past he has consistently said publicly it's his least favorite spot to play.

Which is why upon his return it would be no shock, in fact look for it in some situations, for the Broncos to play a 3-4 look once in a while and simply play all four of the linebackers with Miller and Woodyard as outside linebackers, Brooking and Williams on the inside.

The key to making that work, especially on early downs, would be to find a way for Elvis Dumervil to play in the defensive line. Dumervil would be undersized for that duty in any 3-4 look, so the Broncos could go with a more traditional three-man look up front with Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan up front and use Dumervil in a rotational role, with the focus being on passing downs.

Dumervil also led the league in sacks, with 17, as an outside linebacker in the 3-4. He then played down in a three-point stance for most of those sacks.

The Broncos align themselves at times like a 3-4 defense, even though their scheme is a 4-3, with multiple fronts and personnel packages. That will only increase with Williams' return.

They also have a three-linemen, three-linebacker package they use in their nickel defense (five defensive backs), and Williams would certainly be a candidate in that look as well.

Beyond Miller, Broncos coach John Fox has said Williams is potentially one of the impact players the Broncos have at the position. So, Fox figures to use Williams plenty just as soon as the veteran is in uniform.

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D.J. Williams sentenced to 30 days house arrest

DENVER -- Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams will serve 30 days under home arrest for driving under the influence but not until after the season.

Williams was sentenced Wednesday but a judge said he didn't have to start serving it until Feb. 7, 2013. Prosecutors had asked that Williams serve a month behind bars.

Besides the home arrest, during which time he'll have to wear an ankle monitor, Williams also must serve two years of probation, have his sobriety monitored and attend alcohol education classes and therapy, all standard punishments for second-time offenders. He also must perform 56 hours of community service and pay $2,390 in court costs.

"We thought it was a fair and appropriate sentence given all the circumstances," said Williams' lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, who immediately filed an appeal.
Williams is serving an NFL-mandated three-game suspension over his August conviction for driving while ability impaired. This is on top of the six-game suspension he just completed for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Coach John Fox said Wednesday that Williams is "paying his dues right now, literally. So, it's a process. He's done what he's supposed to do through the process and we'll honor what they decide."

Williams was banned from team headquarters for the first six weeks of the season but was allowed to return last week. He can attend meetings but cannot practice and isn't allowed to speak with the media until his suspension ends. He can resume practicing with the team on Nov. 12.

Defensive end Elvis Dumervil said it was good to have Williams back in the building.

"He's a great teammate. Sometimes people make mistakes, but he's definitely a great guy to have in the locker room," Dumervil said. "Having his presence here is tremendous, so we're excited to get him back in the room with us."

Williams originally was charged with driving under the influence, but a jury convicted him of the lesser charge. He was also convicted of driving without headlights, the offense that prompted police to stop him near downtown Denver about 3 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2010.

Prosecutors said Williams failed roadside sobriety tests during his traffic stop and refused to take a blood test to determine his possible alcohol level. He was taken to a detox facility.

The Broncos stripped Williams of his captaincy shortly after his arrest -- the second time he'd been detained for suspicion of drunken driving. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to impaired driving.

Williams, who also made news last summer by tweeting a picture of his digital playbook and saying his coaches were asking him to switch positions again, has led the Broncos in tackles five times in his eight years since joining the NFL as Denver's top draft pick in 2004 out of the University of Miami.

During his absence, Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking have shared snaps at his weakside linebacker position, although Brooking recently supplanted Joe Mays as the starting middle linebacker.

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D.J. Williams back at team HQ following 1st of 2 suspensions

With one suspension finished, Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams is back at the team's headquarters Tuesday as he begins serving a second suspension under a new set of rules.

Williams was suspended from the Broncos' first six games for violating the league's policy concerning performance-enhancing drugs. His next three-game suspension was the result of an alcohol conviction that falls under the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

The league's substance-abuse program aims for its players interacting with the team. Williams is at the team's facility Tuesday working out. He can have interaction with his coaches and players.

What Williams can't do is practice or play in games. Williams is also forbidden from conducting interviews with the media.

A Broncos starting linebacker since he was a first-round draft pick in 2004, Williams can return to the team in a full, active-player capacity on Nov. 12, the day after the Broncos' play their ninth game during Week 10 at Carolina.

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Broncos miss the on-field talent of linebacker D.J. Williams

It's times like this when D.J. Williams becomes conspicuous by his absence.

Where was the Broncos' best all-around linebacker Sunday as quarterback Tom Brady was making the Broncos' defense look embarrassingly inept against the rush-to-snap, rush-to-rush New England Patriots' offense?

Where was Williams as the Patriots rushed the ball an astounding 54 times for 251 yards, and 18 of their team-record 35 first downs?

Where was Williams as four or five Broncos were shifting from weak side to strong side while the Patriots were running back to the weak side? Or was that strong side to weak side?

Maybe Williams could have helped the Broncos think through their confusion.

Williams hasn't been around to help, though, because the NFL punished him not just six games for flunking a performance-enhancement test, but an additional three games for his second alcohol-related driving conviction.

His nine-games missed covers what on paper is the most difficult portion of the Broncos' schedule.

"With a legal situation like this — it's not like we had our head in the sand and said everything is going to be OK," Broncos coach John Fox said Monday. "We knew additional discipline was a possibility. We have prepared accordingly and will continue to evaluate things going forward."

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Judge delays sentencing of Broncos' D.J. Williams in drunk driving case

A Denver County judge today delayed the sentencing of Broncos linebacker Genos "D.J." Williams until Oct. 24 following his recent DWAI conviction.

Because this is Williams' second drunken driving-related offense, he could face between 10 days and a year in jail for the misdemeanor and will have to spend two years on probation.

A spokesperson for the Denver District Attorney's Office said Williams will be eligible for in-home detention or work release.

He was stopped in November 2010 around 3 a.m. for driving without headlights and refused to take a blood alcohol test.

In light of the August DWAI conviction, the NFL announced Friday that Williams will remain suspended for three more games, returning to play Nov. 12.

Williams had been slated to return to play for the Bronco's Oct. 28 game against the New Orleans Saints following a botched drug test that led to a six-game suspension.

The league said he provided a "nonhuman" urine sample.

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D.J. Williams' suspension increased

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos will be without linebacker D.J. Williams until mid-November after the NFL added three games to his suspension Friday.

Williams was punished for violating the league's substance abuse policy following his conviction in August of driving while ability impaired.

He already was serving a six-game suspension to start the season for violating the league's banned-substances policy -- such as performance enhancing drugs -- after the NFL said he supplied a "non-human" urine sample during a drug test.

Williams, the team's leading tackler in four of the last five seasons, won't be eligible to return to the Broncos until Nov. 12.

He was originally slated to return in time for the game against New Orleans on Oct. 28, but will now miss that game and road contests at Cincinnati and Carolina, too.

The Broncos, who had been preparing for Williams' suspension to be extended, declined comment after arriving in New England on Friday night for their game against the Patriots this weekend.

Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking have shared snaps at weakside linebacker in Williams' absence.

Williams met with commissioner Roger Goodell in New York last month in hopes of avoiding further punishment from the league following his latest run-in, a case that stemmed from a drunken driving arrest nearly two years ago.

He was originally charged with driving under the influence, but a jury returned a conviction on a lesser charge. He was also convicted of driving without headlights, the offense that prompted police to stop him near downtown Denver about 3 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2010.

Prosecutors said Williams failed roadside sobriety tests during his traffic stop and refused to take a blood test to determine his possible alcohol level. He was taken to a detox facility.

The Broncos stripped Williams of his captaincy shortly after his arrest -- the second time he'd been detained for suspicion of drunken driving. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to impaired driving.

Williams has led the Broncos in tackles five times in his eight years since joining the NFL as Denver's top draft pick in 2004 out of the University of Miami.

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D.J. Williams meets with NFL about further discipline

Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams had an appeal hearing with the NFL on Wednesday in New York regarding his recent conviction on a driving while ability impaired charge, according to multiple league sources.

Williams, 30, is likely to receive an additional two- to three-game suspension, according to the sources, on top of the six-game suspension he now is serving for violating the NFL's performance enhancement policy.

Last week, the NFL levied a three-game suspension against San Francisco 49ers linebacker and former Colorado State star Clark Haggans for a DUI conviction, his second such offense as an NFL player.

Williams also is a repeat offender; he was arrested on a DUI charge in Douglas County during the 2005 season.

Williams tweeted a picture of himself in formal attire while walking in downtown New York on Wednesday.

A starting linebacker since he was the Broncos' first-round draft pick in 2004, Williams was found guilty by a Denver jury on Aug. 15 on a charge stemming from an incident in which he drove away from a downtown nightclub with his lights off at 3 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2010.

At the time of his trial, Williams had already received the six-game suspension for providing a "non-human" urine sample during a drug test following the league's 2011 lockout.

Williams has sued the NFL multiple times for its finding, but the first two courts dismissed his case without a hearing. His appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet been addressed.

The Broncos are 1-2 without Williams this season, losing to Atlanta and Houston after beating Pittsburgh in the opening game.

He will not play in the Broncos' upcoming games Sunday at home against Oakland, Oct. 7 at New England and Oct. 15 at San Diego.

If he is suspended three more games, Williams would also miss a home game against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, plus road games against Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals and against the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers.

The Broncos can't take any action against Williams while he is on the team's reserve-suspended list.

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D.J. Williams files appeal of his suspension with U.S. Supreme Court

Lawyer Peter Ginsberg has been a busy man.

One day after he accompanied temporarily unsuspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Ginsberg filed on behalf of suspended Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the failed lawsuit challenging the suspension.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Williams is challenging the decision of a federal appeals court that his six-game suspension resulted from a fair and appropriate application of the league’s internal arbitration procedures.

Victory won’t keep Williams from being suspended; he’s already served two of six games for producing a non-human urine sample for steroids testing.  But if Williams wins, he’ll get his six game checks (i.e., $1.76 million), along with a measure of public vindication.

It won’t be easy.  The U.S. Supreme Court accepts only a small fraction of the appeals it receives.  Typically, the Supreme Court gets involved only if there’s a discrepancy among the various federal appeals courts, or when the violation of law is particularly egregious.

Maybe, eventually, the conflict among the federal appeals court will come from Vilma’s attack in Louisiana on the same internal arbitration procedures that D.J. Williams is challenging.

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DJ Williams hanging out with Donte’ Stallworth

DJ Williams is still a Denver Bronco. But he’s not in Denver.

The Broncos’ troubled linebacker, who is suspended at least the first six games of 2012 after failing a drug test last year and could face additional discipline for pleading guilty over the summer to a 2010 DUI, tweeted a three-part picture of himself on Sunday afternoon showing him with long-time NFL wide receiver and fellow Sacramento, Ca. native (and current NFL free agent wide receiver) Donte’ Stallworth watching Sunday’s football games together.

Ok, nothing too crazy there. But, it appears Williams isn’t hanging out anywhere near the Broncos’ facilities, or anywhere near the team, period.

Unless Denver recently developed a scenic coastline complete with palm trees, then Williams is also not currently in the Centennial State. In the picture, Williams shows himself in a luxurious beachfront home, enjoying the pigskin on a big screen TV with Stallworth comfortably relaxing on a couch nearby.

Chances are that Williams is in Miami, where he went to college and currently owns a restaurant, though that is purely speculation. Also possibly adding to the speculation is the fact that Stallworth recently worked out for the Dolphins.

Williams can’t practice with the team while his suspension is lifted. But he doesn’t appear to be showing much of an ambition to be hanging near his current team’s locale in the meantime.

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D.J. Williams' ban likely to lengthened

The Denver Post expects suspended Broncos WLB D.J. Williams to have "additional games" tacked onto his six-game PED ban following his conviction for driving while ability-impaired.
Williams could be in for an additional two-game ban, which would mean he couldn't return until Week 10 in November. It's possible the Broncos will release Williams once his suspension is through, though he'd still count $3.466 million against the cap. Wesley Woodyard is starting in Williams' absence.

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D.J. Williams begins suspensions

Veteran linebacker D.J. Williams begins his suspension Saturday for violating the banned substance policy. He likely will be suspended additional games because he was convicted of driving while ability impaired.

Williams, an eight-year starter, didn't play in any preseason games. He declined all interview requests during the preseason, including Thursday night in Arizona.

Green and Williams are allowed to keep their iPads containing the Broncos' playbook, but the team is prohibited from updating it or communicating with the two players during their suspensions.

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