ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Bills safety Aaron Williams was too excited to return to practice for the first time in nearly a month to worry about the potential long-term effects his latest head injury might have on his career.
“Honestly, it probably does have an effect on the future,” Williams said at his locker Tuesday.
“But am I thinking about that? No. I can’t think about that because if I think about it, it’s going to happen,” he added. “I love this game to the bottom of my heart, and would do anything to keep playing.”
The sixth-year player acknowledged he needs to play smarter to reduce the risk of head injuries.
Williams was cleared to practice, and coach Rex Ryan said the starter is “ready to go” for Buffalo’s season opener at Baltimore on Sunday.
Williams has been out since sustaining a concussion on Aug. 11, when he collided with receiver Dez Lewis during a team drill at training camp.
The injury came on the heels of Williams having season-ending neck surgery in which doctors shaved two disks to alleviate nerve damage. He was hurt while diving headfirst in an attempt to tackle Patriots receiver Julian Edelman in Week 2.
The collision with Lewis happened when Williams was trying to break up a pass over the middle.
Williams called it “a freak accident,” and said his first concern was whether he re-injured his neck.
“I couldn’t really tell you what I was thinking or what was going on in my mind because the whole time my head was ringing,” Williams said. “I was trying to make sure that my neck was actually good. I was more concerned about my neck than I was my head.”
Williams previously acknowledged he would not have returned to play this season if doctors informed him there was any risk of aggravating the neck injury.
He is also taking steps to alter his tackling technique so his head and neck are less exposed. Williams did that by leaning on the advice of former NFL star safety and first-year Bills defensive backs assistant Ed Reed.
Williams said Reed provided numerous pointers while going over practice and game film.
“He said, ‘You like to hit too many times for unnecessary reasons,'” Williams said. “But I never knew that because I only knew one way to play, and that was to stop the person who had the ball no matter what the repercussions are.”
That doesn’t mean Williams intends to play cautiously.
“I won’t play, I guess, conservative, if you want to put it,” Williams said. “I only know one speed to play and that’s full speed. And I told coach I’m ready to go.”
Right tackle Seantrel Henderson returned to practice after missing last week for an undisclosed reason. Without going into detail, Henderson said his absence was related to having offseason surgery on his intestines to relieve the effects of Crohn’s disease.
Henderson was out since making his preseason debut in playing 41 of 77 snaps in a 21-16 loss at Washington on Aug. 26.
Henderson said he’s “feeling normal” and “everything checked out fine.”
NOTES: RB LeSean McCoy practiced after being excused for the start of the session for personal reasons. … Buffalo signed receiver and return specialist Brandon Tate, a week after he was cut by Cincinnati. Tate fills the roster spot left open by FB Dan Vitale, who was released Sunday after failing his physical. … Buffalo signed CB Marcus Roberson, LB Carlos Fields and S Damian Parms to its practice squad.