Following a stellar career at Vanderbilt University, Chris Williams was selected 14th overall by the Chicago Bears in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Over the next four-plus seasons, he made 38 starts while seeing action at left tackle, right tackle and left guard. But he never quite lived up to expectations in Chicago and was released by the Bears on Oct. 16, 2012.
Six days later, after talking with a number of clubs, Williams signed with the Rams.
“I played against the Rams (in a 23-6 Bears’ win on Sept. 23, (2012) and then ended up playing with them a few weeks later,’’ the 6-foot-6, 326-pound Williams said. “Actually part of the reason I came here was because I liked the way the Rams played.’’
Williams will get his first chance to face his ex-teammates on Sunday when the Rams (4-6) host the Bears (6-4) in a noon game at the Edward Jones Dome.
“I’m excited about it,’’ he said. “I’ve got a lot of friends over there, so it’ll fun to beat them. You treat it like any other game — I try to get fired up any time I’m playing — but obviously, there’s a little extra because you’re playing your old team.’’
Williams, a starter in the Bears’ two playoff games in 2010, seems to have benefited from the change in scenery and has started 10 games at left guard this season.
“We don’t really pay much attention to a player’s past,’’ Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said in a conference call with the Chicago media. “He’s a very talented kid. He’s a good, smart football player. I think he just needed a fresh start. He came in and played guard and tackle for us last year, and played well. He’s familiar with the system now, he’s communicating real well with (center) Scott Wells and (left tackle) Jake Long. He’s having fun. He’s a great guy in the locker room and he’s become a great teammate here.’’
In their most complete game of the season, the Rams won 38-8 in Indianapolis on Nov. 10 and followed with their bye week. Williams said the team made good use of the down time.
“We’ve had two weeks to focus on this one, and we’re all pretty pumped up to play again,’’ he said. “As a team, we needed the break. We had some guys banged up, myself included, so the time off and rest helped a lot. We just want to go out, play hard and keep it rolling.’’
U. CITY’S BASS THRIVING WITH CHICAGO
Defensive end David Bass, a University City High product, seems to have found a home with the Bears.
Last week, in the team’s 23-20 overtime win over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, Bass avoided a Ray Rice block, picked off a Joe Flacco pass and returned it 24 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.
“It was a great feeling. But it’s not everything I ever hoped for,’’ Bass told the Chicago Sun-Time’s Mark Potash after the victory. “It’s just one play out of many and we’ve got a lot of football left to play. I’m going to build off of that and just keep working.’’
Following a record-setting career at Missouri Western, the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Bass was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the seventh round of April’s draft. After being cut, he was claimed off waivers by the Bears.
Following four weeks on the inactive list, Bass has played in the last six games, starting the Nov. 10 contest with Detroit. Last weekend, in addition to the interception return for touchdown, he had four tackles, including one for loss, and a pass defense against the Ravens. He has been in on 15 tackles this season.
“First of all, he’s a great fit for our locker room,’’ Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s a first-class guy. ... We could see the athleticism and the strength that he has. (Defensive line coach) Mike Phair and our coaching staff have done a terrific job and continued to develop him. We’re enjoying having him here and being part of our football team.’’
Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker added: “David, he’s gotten better each and every day. We try to take it from the practice field to the game, and that’s what he’s done. Hopefully he can build on a lot of the positives that he’s shown so far.’’
The Rams’ injury report on Thursday was the same as Wednesday’s. Four players — guard Harvey Dahl (knee), cornerback Cortland Finnegan (eye), running back Chase Reynolds (knee) and quarterback Brady Quinn (back) — sat out practice again on Thursday while safeties Darian Stewart (foot) and Matt Giordano (thigh) were limited in the Thursday workout.
The Bears, who’ve already ruled out quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs, practiced without starting nose tackle Stephen Paea (toe). Starting right tackle Jordan Mills (quadriceps) took part in a full workout Thursday while three back-ups — safety Craig Steltz (concussion), cornerback Isaiah Frey (hand) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) — were limited.
Several with area ties are among the modern-era semifinalists being considered for Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014. They include ex-St. Louis Rams defensive back Aeneas Williams, former Rams running back Jerome Bettis, ex-Los Angeles Rams defensive end Kevin Greene (Granite City) and defensive back Steve Atwater (Lutheran North) as well as Don Coryell, who coached the St. Louis Football Cardinals from 1973-77.