Suddenly, football became more than a game for Maurice Williams. This year, it's a test of character.
Williams was the Jaguars' starting right offensive tackle in each of the previous six seasons. He saw himself as a Jaguars lifer; a guy who would spend his entire career with one team.
That changed during the offseason when the Jaguars signed Tony Pashos in free agency for the purpose of replacing Williams. Suddenly, Williams' career was in upheaval.
"It hasn't been easy. I just go off my core values. This is what God put in me; this character and this integrity. I always try to find a positive in every situation," Williams said of dealing with his demotion.
In spring drills, Williams found himself holding blocking bags, a tough pill for a six-year starter to swallow, but he did and without a complaint. To that end, Williams has distinguished himself as a team player; a guy who won't allow himself to become a distraction.
Head coach Jack Del Rio praised Williams on Monday. Del Rio said Williams had a "very solid camp for us." Del Rio volunteered the information.
"This isn't the end of my career," Williams promised. "This is just a bump in the road."
He agreed to take a pay-cut from a $3.5 million salary to $2 million. In the process, he pared two years from his contract. He's in a one-year deal now. Williams is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next March.
"It might be my last season in Jacksonville. We don't know how it'll all play out. There are a ton of teams that need offensive linemen and I'm a quality offensive lineman," Williams said.
The persistent neck burners that left him a one-armed player two years ago are gone.
"That's completely healed. I have no problem with it at all. Last year I felt I had a good year," he added. "You ask yourself, what went wrong? They're not going to give you full insight. I'm still a good player. If I keep dealing with the negative, I'm not going to be able to keep that smile on my face."
The smile on his face these days is for the challenge of learning a new position. His role with the Jaguars this year is as the team's swing tackle, meaning the guy who can play both positions.
"I'm having a chance to learn left tackle. I never played left tackle before," he said.
Richard Collier would seem to be in the process of being moved back to right tackle, to become Pashos' backup, and Williams and Collier will certainly get plenty of playing time in Green Bay on Thursday.
"This is something that came up in my life and I have to keep going," he said.