BEREA - During the offseason the Buffalo Bills came up with $50 million of guaranteed cash to sign defensive end Mario Williams, which is slightly more than the $1.5 million per year former Bills end Bruce Smith earned in 1989.
Through two games Williams hasn't played up to the richest contract given a defensive player in NFL history. Three total tackles and no sacks are ordinary numbers for someone that is considered among the premier defenders in the game.
Browns offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz is hoping that Williams continues his sack-less streak Sunday when the Bills visit Cleveland Browns Stadium. Schwartz, a second-round draft choice, will have the task of lining up opposite Williams in just his third NFL start.
"He has the speed and he's a big guy, too," Schwartz said. "He's one of those guys you have to be on top of your game for."
Signing Williams definitely fits into the category of high risk-reward. He has 53 career sacks in seven seasons, including 39.5 in the first four years. Injuries have limited him to 18 combined games in the last three seasons (two last seasons).
Schwartz isn't concerned about those facts. He knows the types of problems he could face Sunday.
"He's still a great player," Schwartz said. "He does a lot of things to get the tackles out of position. He might not be getting the quarterback to the ground. He's disrupting things."
Williams is one part of a front four that includes end Mark Anderson, tackle Marcell Dareus and tackle Kyle Williams. It's a grouping the Bills think will rejuvenate a pass rush that fell on hard times last season.
"I don't have to block them, so I'm not worried about them," quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "They're good up front. They're two-deep across the board. We can have this conversation every week because every team is going to have guys up front that can really play."
Schwartz is going through the inevitable learning curve that hits most rookies. It's not much different than what Weeden and running back Trent Richardson are dealing with on a weekly basis.
"I think you have to progress throughout the week," Schwartz said. "If you're not getting the stuff right in practice and you're not using the right techniques it's not going to translate to the field for you. It's more than just how you play."
Coach Pat Shurmur put Schwartz into the lineup early in training camp and hasn't wavered in his support. Schwartz had a rough start in preseason games against the Lions and Eagles because of the wide-nine look they present with their fast ends.
The progress in Schwartz's game has been steady. More will be known after Sunday's game.
"The defensive ends in this league all present problems in their own way," Shurmur said. "Now he's going to be facing a guy that's long and has great skill and ability. Every week presents a bigger test than the last. He's gaining experience and as he's watching him and prepares on tape to face him, he'll gain experience throughout the game as well."
Williams has a way of making an opponent grow up real fast.