Dolphins running back Damien Williams has a request for the NFL celebration police: Chill, will you? Just a tad? Please?
Williams has a vested interest in how the league frowns upon certain touchdown celebrations. Two months ago, he danced after scoring against the Steelers. He was penalized. And fined.
And he hasn’t danced since.
This matters to Williams because with just 48 touches, he has six touchdowns this season. If you want to know how good a ratio that is, consider that Arizona running back David Johnson leads the league with 15 touchdowns — but he’d have 40 if he scored with the same regularity as Williams.
“I take pride in coaches trusting me to do something, to make a play,” Williams said. “Half the time I get in, it’s a goal-line run or a goal-line pass or catch or whatever. So half the time, it’s my teammates who get us downfield. I’m just the one who, I guess, gets lucky enough to finish it.”
Lucky? You could take it to the bank whenever Williams takes it to the house. The Dolphins are 6-1 all-time when he scores a touchdown, including their 26-23 victory over the Cardinals last week, when he cashed in on a 3-yard reception.
“It goes way back,” Williams said, of his knack for scoring. “I didn’t really start playing running back — taking it seriously — until my senior year in high school. I played both ways my junior year, but my senior year is when I think I had almost 20-something touchdowns.” He had 19 in two seasons at Oklahoma.
Williams scored on a 1-yard run against Pittsburgh to help spur the four-game winning streak, but Jay Ajayi, who also was in on that play, danced with him, leading to fines that he wishes weren’t so quickly doled out.
“I understand what they’re trying to do and what they’re trying to say, but I feel like at the end of the day, if I’m trying to celebrate with my guys, my teammates, and not doing something just on my own, I feel like they should kind of chill just a little bit,” Williams said.
He knows plenty of fans enjoy celebrations when done in the right spirit.
“Of course,” Williams said. “At the end of the day it’s all for them. We’re having fun. We’re doing what we love to do and that’s what they’re watching us do. And it kind of takes it away whenever you’ve got the officials and the league office trying to shut that down a little bit. We’re trying to have fun and show our passion for the game.”
The fine, $12,154, isn’t a pleasant memory for Williams, who points out it was stiff enough that he hasn’t danced since. Williams didn’t even want to recite the figure, simply saying you could buy “a whole lot” with the amount.
Although Ajayi is the Dolphins’ workhorse back and has run for seven touchdowns, Williams has 30 carries for 110 yards, plus 18 receptions for 175 yards. He has scored three TDs each on the ground and in the air.
With starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill out at least two games with a knee injury, the Dolphins are calling on Matt Moore and could be leaning on their running backs more. That’s especially true considering the weather for Saturday’s game against the host New York Jets is expected to be in the 40s with wind, rain and snow. For a guy who grew up in San Diego, attended Oklahoma and makes his living in South Florida, that’s not welcome news, even if it represents a relative warming trend.
“I’m trying to keep track,” Williams said. “I think last time I checked, it was like 3 or something like that.
“I can’t do cold, man.”
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