Kevin Williams is asked what he tells the young players who now surround him on the Vikings' defensive line, what counsel he gives the men who might one day line up to replace him. He responds with a piece of advice. "Just pay attention," the 32-year-old defensive tackle said Wednesday at the team's organized team activities. "Don't be the guy that you always have to repeat stuff (to). You're not always going to get a rep at something, so try and absorb it when the older guys do it. It will save on all the confusion and bickering over whether you're getting the plays right." Williams is paying attention. He sees what the Vikings did this offseason -- cutting veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, then restructuring Williams' contract before drafting rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd -- and it's easy to wonder if this will be his final season with the team. The five-time Pro Bowler is in the last year of his deal with the Vikings because he voided his 2014 contract and gave back $2.5 million this season in exchange for a fully guaranteed base salary of $4.9 million in 2013. And 10 years after they took Williams with the ninth overall pick, the Vikings selected Floyd with their top choice (23rd overall) in this year's draft. Once part of the famed Williams Wall, he watched the inglorious exit of former nose tackle Pat Williams after the 2010 season. And while Kevin Williams isn't pleased about the past few months, he says he won't let any bad feelings linger through the season. "If we're going to count on these young guys, they need some type of veteran leadership around showing them the right ways to do things," Williams said. "I take it on myself to be a leader, and, yeah, maybe me and the front office didn't agree on the contract situation, but I'm still here to do a job." Winfield's exit makes Kevin Williams the senior member of the Vikings' roster, and it figures he will spend a fair amount of time working with Floyd. The rookie's best spot is the under tackle position Williams has manned for a decade, and Floyd said he already has used Williams as a resource. "He watched me go through my reps and then (would) correct me on some stuff, tell me how to get it done better and more efficient," Floyd said. "So, he's helping a lot." But while Williams was cordial toward the rookie, he made it clear he wants to keep his job this season. "If we can bring a young guy to help us win, and he just so happens to play my position, so be it," Williams said. "I still think I'm the top dog here, and until proven otherwise, we're going to go with it."
Vikings' Kevin Williams: 'I still think I'm the top dog here'
St. Paul Pioneer Press | May 30