Pi'a Williams' dad showed up for work Monday at Paycor Stadium with a new resolve and a new position as the Bengals prep for this week's mandatory minicamp.
"The most important thing in the world is being a dad," said Jonah Williams, who celebrated the March 22 birth of his daughter. "So, I've really been able to have a singular focus. Which was grind my knee rehab, get my body in shape, knock the training out and be the best dad I could be. That's all I've focused on for however many months."
Williams, the 2019 first rounder, had the same offseason work ethic out there on the West Coast (San Diego this year) that he possessed while training for all 42 of his NFL starts at left tackle. Only this time the transition to right tackle dovetailed with his rehab from medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction, a procedure attaching the inside part of the kneecap to the femur.
Or, as he says, "They strapped (the kneecap) back down and it's stronger than ever … After training on it, I think it's going to be way better than 100 percent."
The man who performed the surgery, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, also did Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow's ACL reconstruction and Williams insists he'll be cleared during the coming weeks and in plenty of time for next month's start of training camp.
Meanwhile, Williams has also been grafting his game to the other side with the same grit that allowed him not to miss a snap in the regular season after he suffered a dislocated kneecap just before halftime of the Oct.9 game in Baltimore.
After missing the last six plays of the half, Williams emerged from the locker room and didn't miss a play until the 30th snap of the Jan. 15 Wild Card win over the Ravens. That's when the knee gave out for good.
"As I'm coming back from my knee, I'm working with a lot of different moves in a lot of stressful situations," Williams said. "I'm incorporating my rehab into football drills working out of the right tackle stance.
"(The biggest adjustment) is re-learning everything for the other side of your body. Opposite stance. Post leg is your kick leg and vice versa and all that. It's nothing that reps and practice won't get me used to. … The last time I played right tackle was freshman year in college. There's a lot of technique to kind of unlearn and switch to the other side. It's my job. I love it. I've got a great coach, great teammates, and I'm grinding my ass off. I'm going to crush it."
Williams has talked to the Bengals' new left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the four-time Pro Bowler whose signing led to the switch. As a noted watcher of tape, Williams is familiar with Brown's game.
"Watching the Chiefs. He's a great player. I'm happy to have him," Williams said. "No hard feelings or anything like that. I'm looking forward to getting to know him better."
A few days after the Brown signing, Williams requested a trade but he sounds all in now.
With right tackle La'el Collins (ACL) doing his own knee rehab, Williams finds himself in a competition with Jackson Carman, Cody Ford and Hakeem Adeniji. After losing Williams and Collins for the playoffs, not to mention right guard Alex Cappa, the Bengals aren't looking to deal away offensive line depth.
"I'll be happy to be a contributor on a team where I have so many great teammates," Williams said. "l love everyone in the room, love the coaches, love the fans. I'm stoked."