He’s regarded as a longshot to make the final roster, but a few more plays such as the ones he made Monday would improve his chances.
RENTON — Kasen Williams can admit now that there was a time when he would coast through practices at the University of Washington.
That was back during the heady, early days of his career, when everything seemed to come so easy for a player who entered college as one of the more-heralded recruits in recent UW history.
On Monday, during the Seahawks’ ninth practice of training camp, he instead found himself flying, laying out with all of his 6-foot-1, 219-pound frame to haul in a pass from R.J. Archer, holding onto the ball as he landed in the end zone for a touchdown.
Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos,
7 p.m., Ch. 13
It’s the kind of play Williams must make consistently to latch on to a roster spot with the Seahawks at receiver, one of the more competitive positions in training camp.
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Given his status as an undrafted free agent, Williams has to be regarded as a longshot to remain standing after the final cut to 53 players.
A few more plays such as the ones he made Monday — or a few more days such as Saturday, when he had four catches in the Seahawks’ mock game — would improve his chances.
Williams said he won’t go down without giving it his best shot. He feels as well physically as he has since suffering a broken left fibula and Lisfranc injury in his left foot Oct. 26 2013, against California.
He also feels in the best place mentally since that day, saying the long road back — which included playing through a disappointing senior season at UW while he regained full strength and mobility in the leg — taught him some valuable lessons.
“It all happens for a reason,’’ Williams said of the injury. “It brought my hunger back and my dedication to the game back and my love for the game back. I was playing well my entire life, and eventually what happened was I started coasting. And then I got hurt. And then I had to go all the way back to Day One and rebuild my foundation.’’
Along the way, he said he finally bought into what coaches say “about competing in games and practices. Before I wouldn’t compete in practices. Now I am doing that.’’
For those reasons, Williams said he now can say of the injury: “I’m glad that happened.’’
Still, the injury greatly contributed to his current situation — trying to make the Seahawks’ roster as an undrafted free agent. A player who many assumed would be a high-round pick when he entered UW was left wanting for a team when the draft ended after making just 19 catches as a senior.
He signed with Cincinnati but failed his physical. The Bengals’ doctors grew concerned after seeing the pin that remains in his surgically repaired foot.
“They just felt like I wasn’t worth the deal,’’ he said. “But I told them I’ve been playing (with it) all year. So, whatever.’’
Seattle’s doctors, he said, were more comfortable after talking to the surgeon who handled the procedure. Williams was invited to the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis and did enough to earn a contract offer.
But in another little hiccup, he couldn’t take part in the Seahawks’ OTAs because his class at UW had not graduated. So the Seahawks didn’t sign him until before minicamp. That meant he had just one practice with the full team before training camp began.
After some quiet practices early, he began to make some noise. On Saturday he beat veteran cornerback Cary Williams for about a 30-yard catch down the sideline. On Monday he made the end-zone play and another lunging grab down the sideline for a touchdown.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who watched Williams play at Skyline High School in Sammamish, said it was evident last year that “he may not have really had all of his confidence back,’’ Now, Carroll said, Williams is playing “just like the guy he was when we saw him coming out as a senior in high school.”
Williams spoke earlier in camp about sort of liking the feeling of being an underdog for the first time in his life.
How his recent apparent return to form might have affected his spot in the receiver pecking order, though, is something he keeps at arm’s length.
“I can’t (think about that),’’ he said. “I just put my head down and go. I’m in my own lane. I’m not thinking about what Coach is thinking. I’m just making plays. That’s all I can do.’’