FALCON NEWS UPDATE: After Suffering A Season-Ending Knee Injury A Year Earlier, Top Cornerback Returns With A Well-Defined Plan.

In 2023, Avery Williams was never truly absent—just not in the way he would have preferred. He completed every journey. He attended practically all of the practices. He was never late to the sidelines for a game.

Long before the season even started in 2023, Williams sustained a season-ending knee injury during the offseason training regimen. Williams, who had just finished a season in which he led the league in average yards per punt return, took a gut-punch. He actually controlled the league rather than just leading it by that amount.

He was three yards better than the second-best punt returner(s) of the season with an average of 16.2 yards per return. With an average of 13.2 yards, Tremon Smith and Kalif Raymond were tied for second place.

The Falcons’ average yards per punt return in 2023 fell to third lowest in the league without Williams returning punts. The Falcons’ average yards per return as a team dropped from a lead-inting 16.2 to 7.2 yards last season. Williams was limited to observing from a distance throughout that period.

Williams, however, was thankful to be there even in that situation, even if it meant watching through a glass pane in the team’s weight room while he recovered his knee and the team practiced on the field every day.

“You’ve seen guys who have had big, big injuries and they’re not around until they’re healed and come back, but I couldn’t imagine that,” Williams stated. “I find it difficult to imagine how that would feel or appear.

Furthermore, I doubt that’s how I would ever want things to be. I’m thankful that I was able to be here for a variety of reasons, but primarily so that I could spend every day with my friends and teammates and still feel like a member of the group.”

Williams is currently nearly a full year away from the day of the injury that kept him out of commission. When asked how it feels to be back on the grass after spending so much time away, Williams replied that the act of simply jogging onto a football field now holds more significance for him than it may have before his accident.

“After the injury you start to realize the small things like just being grateful to be out here,” Williams stated. “I’m thankful that I can feel fatigued out here, even on days when we’re doing a lot of repetitions or when things are difficult. Like I did last year, I could spend all of my time outside observing.

A certain level of pain or anxiety results from being unable to assist or engage in helping your teammates who are working themselves to the bone.”

Williams stated, “My objective, my expectation for myself is to lead the league in punt return and kick return with the new kick return rules once again.” The dynamic on special teams will change, but what are my expectations? Their goal has always been to take the lead, finish first, and rank first.

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