TAMPA, Fla. (June 20, 2007) -- Cadillac Williams says there's one thing he'll never forget about the only losing season he's gone through as a football player.
"I found out you definitely shouldn't take winning for granted," the third-year Tampa Bay running back said.
"Sometimes you beat teams and think that's what you were supposed to do. After the season we had last year, I'm counting every win and going to be thankful for however it comes."
The Buccaneers went 4-12 -- missing the playoffs for the third time in four years -- and an inability to get the running game on track was one of the main reasons for the team's first-to-worst slide in the NFC South.
With a rookie running the offense after quarterback Chris Simms was sidelined for the season in Week 3, opposing defenses stacked the line of scrimmage and practically dared Bruce Gradkowski to try to beat them with his arm.
Williams' opportunities to help the team decreased, and so did Tampa Bay's chances for winning.
"It was tough. Teams stuck eight guys in the box and just blitzed, not respecting what we do best -- and that's run the football," Williams said, adding that as the season progressed he probably made matters worse by trying to do too much when he did get the ball.
"That's very frustrating. It's tough when you go out, practice hard and prepare yourself to play, and you're just not getting results. It was a time you just had to humble yourself and say: 'Hard times don't last always.' That's the approach I took."
After rushing for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns to run away with the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and help the Bucs make the playoffs in 2005, Williams gained 798 yards on 225 carries and only got into the end zone once last season.
If there was a bright spot in his performance, he did become more involved in the passing game with 30 receptions -- 10 more the previous year.
"That's a lot of catches from him with his background," coach Jon Gruden said of the former Auburn star, who was rarely used in the passing game in college. "He's really worked at that craft. ... His versatility as a receiver has really gotten better."
And, Williams continues to work at becoming a better all-around back.
During offseason workouts and this week's mandatory minicamp, the 25-year-old has made it a point to participate in fewer running plays and spend more time on the field in passing situations.
"I would just like to be more productive. There were times last year when it was kind of like hit or miss with me. There were times when I was productive and times when I wasn't," Williams said. "I want to be consistent to the point that I'm productive every Sunday. ... Last year did test my patience. But I think it's only going to make me a better football player."