Niagara Gazette — PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Mario Williams arrived for the start of Buffalo Bills training camp Friday wearing his expectations in plain sight.
It came in the form of a red, white and blue Superman letter "S," stitched on the cap the defensive end nicknamed "Super Mario" wore while unloading his belongings in front of the St. John Fisher College dorm Bills players will call home for the next month.
"The hat gives me motivation," Williams said. "You can't get any better than Superman."
Williams and the Bills, then, have much to prove if they intend to come anywhere close to resembling men of steel in preparing to open camp with a workout and physicals on Saturday, followed by their first practice Sunday night.
Williams is coming off an inconsistent first season in Buffalo, during which he failed to play to the six-year, $100 million contract he signed in free agency.
And the Bills are coming off one of the franchise's most significant offseason overhauls after a 6-10 finish in which they extended the NFL's longest active playoff drought to 13 years.
Buffalo brought in a new coach, Doug Marrone, promoted Doug Whaley to take over as general manager after Buddy Nix stepped down, purged numerous veterans, and drafted quarterback EJ Manuel in the first round.
Williams shrugged off the past, saying the opening of camp serves as an opportunity for a fresh start. And he sees no reason why the Bills can't be considered contenders.
"It's just as realistic as us standing here right now," Williams said. "At the end of the day, we've just got to go out and we've got to do it. No ifs, ands or buts about it. No excuses."
The Bills came up with plenty of excuses for their woes last year. And that included Williams, who blamed his poor start to the season on a nagging left wrist injury he eventually had surgically repaired after seven games.