Dan Williams sat at his locker, fixing his football pants before getting ready for practice, able to smile.
The nose tackle was back with the Cardinals for the first time since his family’s tragic car accident en route to watch Williams and his teammate play in New Orleans, an accident that claimed the life of Williams’ father, Thomas.
“I am doing a lot better,” Williams said. “Any time you lose your parent, it’s a tough loss. But my family has been supportive. I count my blessings. My mom and sister are all right. It’s bigger than me. God just had a different plan for me and for my father.”
Williams said both his mother and sister had to wear back braces, with his mom suffering bruised ribs and his sister with a small fracture in her back. But they are both expected to make a full recovery.
“After seeing the car, I am very thankful for my mother and sister still being with me,” Williams said.
The funeral for Thomas Williams was Saturday. Team president Michael Bidwill flew the defensive line from Florida to Memphis so they all could attend and support Williams.
Now, though, Williams gets back to football. Coach Bruce Arians said Williams will start Sunday against Carolina.
“You know he’s hurting,” Arians said. “I think the healing process takes a long time. I think being in football is the best medicine for healing. I think getting back here, getting him with the guys, giving him a purpose every day is the best healing for him.”
Williams said it was “definitely good” to get back to football, and said he wouldn’t have any problems focusing this week.
“You can’t get away from (the tragedy), but it’s the fact, so get back to your normal life,” Williams said. “My Dad was a huge football fan. He’d have it no other way.”
PETERSON NAMED DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
“I don’t think this is going to be his last one,” Arians said. Asked if Peterson could win offensive player of the week honors, Arians quipped “We’re hoping. That’s my next goal.”
“I just want to keep getting better each and every week,” Peterson said.
ADDING A LINEBACKER
The Cardinals signed veteran outside linebacker
Benard was released by the Patriots at the end of the preseason and has played defensive end much of his career. He had 11½ sacks for Cleveland in 25 games from 2009-11.
COLLEDGE, JOHNSON, BRINKLEY SIT
For the Panthers, defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (hamstring), defensive end Greg Hardy (illness), safety Quintin Mikell (ankle) and cornerback D.J. Moore (knee) all sat out. Defensive tackle Kawann Short (ankle) was limited.