MINNEAPOLIS - Troy Williamson has spent all training camp talking about taking over as the No. 1 receiver on the Minnesota Vikings.
In the first preseason game on Friday night, he started acting like one.
Williamson, a Silver Bluff graduate, caught three passes for 32 yards in the first quarter and was clearly the go-to receiver for young quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Even more importantly for the third-year wideout - no drops.
"I feel real confident," Williamson said after the 13-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams. "Just have to keep everything moving. I feel I'm getting more confidence on what I have to do and how we have to do it."
Confidence is something new for Williamson.
The former No. 7 overall pick out of South Carolina - a choice that came to the Vikings from Oakland in exchange for Randy Moss - was second in the NFL last season with 11 drops. It was a miserable, confidence-sapping season in which he failed to score a touchdown.
He immersed himself in his craft in the off-season, catching an estimated 20,000 balls to work on his hands, and even making several trips to Nike headquarters in Oregon to get his eyes checked out.
Last year, Williamson seemed to have trouble tracking the ball in the air, especially on deep passes, and would often let the ball slip through his hands. The folks at Nike gave him some exercises to strengthen his eyes.
He has carried himself like a different man in the first two weeks of training camp.
"Troy has been very professional," receiver Bobby Wade said. "He's been taking his game to the next level, which is something he needed to do. There's a challenge to him this year, obviously, the expectations. He's facing it like a man."
Williamson admitted he still has a long way to go to show he can be the reliable playmaker that can take pressure off the Vikings' running game. But Friday night was a step down that road.
"Boosted me up just a little bit more," Williamson said. "We have to keep on going. I'm not where I want to be at yet, but the more and more I keep doing, the better I'll be."