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Spotlight on: DE Mario Williams

Mario Williams
Mario Williams leads the NFL in sacks through the first two weeks of the season. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

By Jay Skurski

Jets coach Rex Ryan had an interesting way of describing Bills defensive end Mario Williams this week.

"God touched this guy," the Jets’ coach said. “Like, gave him unbelievable gifts. He’s got the height, the size, the length, the arms, the speed. That’s what kind of jumps out. And he plays hard, he’s smart.”

Coming off a 4.5-sack performance against Carolina in Week Two – a game in which he took an eraser to the names of Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett in the Bills’ record book – Williams was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

His matchup with Jets right tackle Austin Howard will be one of the more interesting ones to watch Sunday.

Howard, of course, had all of one start heading into last year’s season opener against the Bills – and did a shockingly good job against Williams, who after the game complained that Howard was committing hands to the face penalties that were going uncalled by the replacement officials.

Williams said this week he’s not going to address Howard’s approach with officials before the game.

"No, just play ball," he said. “That’s the mindset. Just go out there and mix it up, get after it.”

Jets linebacker Antwan Barnes told Newsday this week there is no way Williams could match his output from the Carolina game on Sunday.

"Not at all," Barnes said. “Not on my O-line. It’s the Panthers were talking about.”

Howard, however, was careful not to provide the Bills’ star with any bulletin-board material.

"He’s one of those dual-type defensive ends who has it all,” the Jets’ tackle said. “He has speed and can get your edge pretty good with his speed and athleticism, and at the same time, he’s really strong, so he can get you really good with a power move.”

Bills coach Doug Marrone said Williams, a two-time Pro Bowler, is more than just a pass rusher.

"I think he’s a very good football player all around. I tend not to try to label him as an elite pass rusher," the coach said. "I think he’s an excellent pass rusher. I think he plays very well against the run and is really a complete player for us who can do a lot of things."


Doug Marrone | Mario Williams | Spotlight on
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |