Milton Williams says the rookie wall is real, and he's feeling that mental and physical fatigue five months after the start of training camp.
Watching him play, it sure doesn't show.
Williams, the Eagles’ rookie 3rd-round pick from Louisiana Tech, has averaged 26 snaps per game and played 39 percent of the Eagles’ snaps this year backing up Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. That’s the most snaps by an Eagles third-round rookie since another defensive tackle, Bennie Logan, averaged 30 snaps per game back in 2013.
Williams said he’s been doing his best to fight through that rookie wall as the Eagles make a playoff push in the second half of the season.
“It’s real, as far as the rookie wall,” said the 22-year-old Williams, the youngest player in the Eagles' offensive or defensive rotation. “It is a real thing. But now it’s about being a professional. It’s my job now so it don’t matter if you hit a wall or whatever, you put an Eagles jersey on and you go out there and give it everything you’ve got.”
Williams hasn’t made a ton of flash plays, but he’s been very solid playing for the NFL’s No. 9 run defense.
He has 25 tackles -- just six fewer than Cox -- along with two sacks, four tackles for loss and five quarterback hits.
“I think I played fine,” Williams said. “Obviously, playing this game for a while you have certain goals that you want to reach for yourself. Not really reaching those goals yet but I think I’m getting close to them.”
Williams described the rookie wall as going non-stop from the start of last season at Louisiana Tech up through Week 18 of the regular season following a six-week preseason.
“Going from college, where we have, what, 12, maybe 13 games? And what’s this, Week 16? Week 17?” he said. “But after the college season, you’re immediately going into training for the draft and training for your pro day. That leads all the way up until April. As soon as you get picked up and figure out what team you’re going to, you go right into training again, getting ready for OTAs, go to OTAs, get that work in, get maybe a week, maybe two weeks, and you gotta get back training for training camp and preseason.
“It’s just a long process that you really don’t go through a lot, and you can feel your body kind of like slowing down a little bit, but that’s why you’ve got to make sure that you’re stretching, hot tubs, getting massages, doing the stuff to take care of your body to make it feel the best you can so you can go out there and produce on Sunday.”