Williams grateful for team's support
Grateful that the Buccaneers closed ranks behind him, rookie wide receiver Mike Williams admitted he made a mistake in the wee hours Friday morning.

Williams was arrested at 2:48 a.m. on charges of driving under the influence after he was stopped in east Hillsborough County. Coach Raheem Morris indicated the fourth-round pick out of Syracuse would be disciplined internally, but Williams was one of six Tampa Bay rookies who started in Sunday's 21-0 triumph against the 49ers.

"I've been with my teammates and I've had a lot of support,'' Williams said after catching three passes for 54 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown that extended Tampa Bay's lead to 14-0. "I know the mistake I made. I knew I was good enough to drive, but I stayed out too late. All that support for me shows it's a real family inside this room.''

Williams had been limited to one reception until late in the third quarter, when he came back for an underthrown Josh Freeman pass and made a 33-yard catch over the middle. "Our running game was working,'' Williams said, "and I just wanted to get out of here with a win.''

Four plays later, Freeman threw quickly against a full blitz on third-and-1 and Williams overcame a pass interference penalty against veteran cornerback Shawntae Spencer to make the catch in the left corner.

"Free had to give me a chance,'' said Williams, whose sixth touchdown reception of the year leaves him one short of tying Michael Clayton's franchise record for rookie receivers. "You've got to make the play and that's what I did. I'm hungry. My favorite route is when the ball's in the air.''

Bucs guard Davin Joseph is proud of the way the Bucs helped Williams through a traumatic episode. "Our coaches, management and players do a good job of sticking behind our guys,'' Joseph said. "A lot of teams in this league are quick to alienate a guy when he's in trouble. We stick by our guys because people make mistakes and it's important to have a family attitude.''

Williams is tied for the team lead with 43 receptions and his average of 15.8 yards per catch is one of the highest in the league. He has six of the 10 touchdowns caught by Tampa Bay wide receivers.

"I've been proud of Mike Williams since the day he said he wanted to sign early so he can starting working with Josh Freeman,'' defensive end Stylez G. White said. "He's a grown man, he's a bachelor, and the last time I checked, staying out late is not a crime.''

But Williams said the timing of the incident reflects poor judgment on his part. "I've got to get home earlier,'' Williams said. "Coach told me I can't be out that late, especially with meetings coming up. You don't want to be falling asleep in the room.''

About the writer
Ira Kaufman has long been both a great writer for The Tampa Tribune and friend to the Bucs UK and BUCPOWER.COM. He writes on all sports for the paper but during the NFL season offers his stories on not just the Buccaneers, but also the NFL in general.