Improving rookie receiver Terrance Williams gets some tough love with the Cowboys

Terrance Williams ran the wrong way. Then he lined up the wrong way.

“Get it together, 83!”

Jason Garrett doesn’t yell a lot in practice, and rarely in irritation, but the Dallas Cowboys coach had to on Monday. And Monday hasn’t been the only day. And he hasn’t been the only one.

Tight end Jason Witten and quarterback Tony Romo have barked at the rookie receiver, too.

Williams takes it quietly. The third-round pick has the potential to be an explosive part of the passing game for the Cowboys, but as training camp has entered its second week and the first preseason game approaches, he is trying to make sure he fits in and understands what he’s doing.

“When they talk to you like that, it’s just a matter of knowing you’ve just got to pay attention and think about the bigger picture,” Williams said. “They’re saying it to help you out, not to bring you down. They just do it because they care.”

The caring started almost right away in camp. Williams had a shaky first two practices, showing the hands and speed that made him second all-time in catches and touchdowns at Baylor, and also the tightness and uncertainty of a player trying to figure everything out in his first professional camp.

“Sometimes nervous isn’t bad,” Garrett said. “… You want to do well. It’s the guy that comes in here and says he has all the answers — that’s the guy you’re a little concerned about. So it’s important to him. He wants to be a good football player, and each and every day he comes out there with that kind of approach.”

Williams’ camp got better fast, though.

Last week, he began to be a consistent target in the two-minute drill, catching slants and deep ins from Tony Romo. Practicing in place of Dez Bryant on Sunday, Williams helped Romo’s first-team offense on a long drive for a field goal, catching a slant almost off the grass for a first down.

“We put him in these situations, and really day in and day out, he’s made the big catch to give us the first down to allow us to kick the field goal,” Garrett said. “He’s done it three or four days in a row.”

Witten, too, nods his assent.

“Couple times, gotten on him, but for the most part, it hadn’t been bad at all,” he said. “He’s come to work. Glad to see the way he’s stepped up and made some plays.”

It could be that the competition level surprised Williams early in camp. He noted that Bryant “comes out here every single day like it’s a game, like he’s still trying to make the team” and “you can’t do the same moves twice” on cornerback Brandon Carr.

“It’s a whole lot tougher, because guys are still trying to make the team,” Williams said. “So I take what the film shows from last night and what the coaches tell me and try to have a good performance.”

More confident after a better practice, he thinks back on the play that made Garrett unhappy.

“That was my first time seeing that play,” he said. “I could have scored that play, but they still would have been mad at me because I didn’t know what I was doing. So I just have to continue studying the playbook some more. Again, they just hold me accountable. To always know what I’m doing.”

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