He was an afterthought. Undrafted in 2010 after a collegiate career as mostly a reserve on the 2007 National Champion LSU Tigers. He had moments, but there were others considered the starts of the teams he played on.
Though born in Louisiana, he attended high school at Hargrave Academy in Chatham, Virginia where he became the schools first ever 1,000 yard rusher. He led LSU in rushing as a junior, but had his senior year cut short because of a broken ankle in early November. This injury caused his draft stock to slip where he eventually fell into the laps of the Redskins.
Washington had come into the 2010 season with a geriatric backfield that even the legendary George Allen would have been uncomfortable with. He was the Hall of Fame coach who was the architect of the “Over The Hill Gang”.
Larry Johnson and Willie Parker were former Pro Bowl running backs whose best days were long behind them. The Redskins signed both to back up another former Pro Bowler in Clinton Portis, who also appears to have had his best moments in the NFL pass him by.
With a rebuilding offensive line, a new quarterback, a new head coach, coaching staff, and general manager joining the team, it was tenuous at best to think the formula of has-been running backs could last an entire season.
Parker never made the team out of training camp, and Johnson was so ineffective that Washington cut him after just two games. Suddenly, the undrafted Williams was thrust into the position of primary reserve halfback.
Williams had gained 67 yards on 19 carries in the 2010 preseason, second best on the team. His two rushing touchdowns led all Redskins. He impressed the coaches enough to make the final roster.
He has done well enough to where the team had more confidence in him over Johnson late in the Redskins 30-27 loss to the Houston Texans. Washington went to the air, and Williams replaced Portis on the field. He caught four passes for 15 yards in limited action, but the tone was set there that he had moved over Johnson on the depth chart.
Chad Simpson is a three year pro Washington signed to replace Johnson on the roster. He spent two years on the Indianapolis Colts, running for 147 yards, catching six balls, and scoring three times. The former product of nearby Morgan State University was primarily a kick returner, scoring once on 38 returns in 2008.
While he might immediately push Devin Thomas for return duties, he will need time to learn the Redskins offensive schemes to be much help. This is the time for Williams to get his opportunity to shine. A solid 226 lbs, he does his best work between the tackles when running the ball. Considering Portis has been ineffective, averaging a paltry 3.1 yards on 31 carries, a change in the backfield might be necessary.
Though Donovan McNabb was excellent last Sunday, the Redskins need a ground game that gets the opponents respect. They have been unable to do so this first two weeks. Perhaps Keiland Williams can continue bucking the odds and be that force Washington so desperately needs on the ground attack.