PHILADELPHIA -- In August, Calvin Williams fought against complacency. In October, he was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Now, as his second year with the Philadelphia Eagles comes to a close, he feels the disappointment of a season that will end too soon.
Williams, who starred at Dunbar High and later at Purdue University, has overcome complacency and his injury this season. But even if the Eagles beat the Washington Redskins at Veterans Stadium Sunday, he will not go to the playoffs.
And that's what hurts the most.
"My thing is getting to the playoffs, and we didn't do that," Williams, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound wide receiver, said yesterday as the Eagles (9-6) prepared for their season finale. "So all the personal accomplishments, personal or as far as our defense being the best in the NFL, it's all for naught. To me, not being in the playoffs overshadows all that."
A year ago, Williams set an Eagles rookie record with nine touchdown catches. That ranked third in the NFL behind San Francisco's Jerry Rice and Atlanta's Andre Rison. Williams also was named to one publication's all-rookie team, and the Eagles made their third straight postseason appearance, albeit a short one.
This season has been earmarked by a rash of injuries that took the quick strike out of the passing game. Quarterback Randall Cunningham was lost for the year with a knee injury in the season opener. Since then, the Eagles have had to sign three quarterbacks, and first-year head coach Rich Kotite has been forced to use five people at the key offensive position.
"It's been kind of hard getting the mix," Williams said. "We were doing a good job until last week. I think things finally caught up with us."
A 25-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, when Jeff Kemp made his first start at quarterback for the Eagles, and a New Orleans victory Monday night eliminated Philadelphia.
The loss of Williams in the third week didn't help the Eagles offense, either. He had gotten off to a slow start (four catches in the first three games) and then suffered a dislocated left shoulder when hit going up for a high pass against the Cowboys. Williams sat out the next four games on injured reserve, the Eagles losing three of them.
His return to the starting lineup against the New York Giants coincided with a six-game winning streak that pushed the Eagles into playoff contention.
Kotite noticed the connection. He appreciates his second-year receiving tandem of Williams and Fred Barnett.
"Calvin is an outstanding player and a fine young man," Kotite said. "He and Fred are two outstanding young receivers. You would have seen their numbers go up more dramatically if not for the injury situation at quarterback."
Williams goes into Sunday's finale with 30 catches for 292 yards and three touchdowns, down from 37 catches and 602 yards last year. With quarterback Jim McMahon going to a quick-release passing game, Williams' average gain also dropped, from 16.3 yards to 9.7.
Still, Williams figures the Eagles can salvage some satisfaction by beating the 14-1 Redskins.
"We want to be 10-6 and finish on a strong note," he said. "We're not going to give up. We never gave up in the season. We've got a lot of pride.
"They [the Redskins] have an excellent shot at going all the way. If we win, it proves what kind of team we are."