Cadillac's Toughness Impresses Teammates
Cadillac Williams has enjoyed more productive games as a pro, but none more inspirational. With their featured back running hard between the tackles, despite sore ribs that kept him up half the night, the Bucs beat New Orleans 31-14 Sunday for their most lopsided win since a 27-0 rout of Atlanta in 2004.

Wearing a specially designed pad to provide additional protection for the ribs he injured in the season opener at Seattle, Williams scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and gained 53 of his 61 yards in the second half.

'Caddy playing today was a really big thing,' said Kevin Carter, the durable defensive end who made his 101st consecutive NFL start. 'The mark of toughness and the ability to keep going is what separates players in this league. To show up and play the way he did - that was a statement that needed to be made and reflected Caddy's commitment to this team.'

Williams was limited to only 8 yards on nine first-half carries, but he became more effective as the game progressed. 'It has been a long time since me and my buddy, the end zone, communicated,' said Williams, who scored only one touchdown in his sophomore season after winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2005. 'I'm real satisfied. I wouldn't mind scoring three, four or five, but I'll settle for two touchdowns every week.'

Williams was leveled by Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu in Week 1 and as he sprawled on the turf at Qwest Field, he figured he had suffered a broken or cracked rib. By Wednesday, he began to breathe with less discomfort, but his status was still uncertain when he awoke groggily on game day. 'I was so worried about it Saturday night,' he said. 'I didn't go to bed until 3:30 or 4 in the morning. I didn't know how I'd react to a hit. Truth be told, it was real sore.'

After going 0-6 in the division last year, the Bucs needed a spark at home against an NFC South opponent, and Williams was determined to contribute. His teammates couldn't help but notice. 'If Caddy can play, he's going to be out there,' Michael Clayton said. 'The guy's passionate about the game of football and he can ignite a team.. He proved that Sunday.'

With the Bucs leading 28-7 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Williams was still out there, running with determination to set up a field goal by Matt Bryant. By then, he already had made a point or two. Twelve, to be exact. 'I was telling running backs coach Art Valero not to yank me,' Williams said. 'I didn't want to come out.'

And as the Bucs ran out the clock five minutes later, there was Williams, carrying three consecutive times for a first down. 'This was big for us, real big,' Williams said. 'These were the defending NFC South champs coming to our place. We knew we had to come out swinging.'

Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune 17 September 2007