While his teammates took part in organized team activities last week, Jesse Williams lifted alone in the weight room located just steps from the practice field.
It wasn't much—Williams' doctors have limited him to light cardio and lifting weight under 20 pounds, which the 325-pound defensive tackle jokes is approximately the weight of one of his T-shirts—but even this light workout represented significant progress for Williams in his effort to come back from kidney cancer.
"It's enough to get me out of the house and moving around," Williams said.
Williams was diagnosed with Papillary Type 2 cancer last month after blood in his urine prompted a visit to Seahawks trainers, which quickly led to hospitalization at the University of Washington and an unfortunate cancer diagnosis. He had surgery to remove one kidney, and just two weeks later, was cleared for light workouts.
I'm a pretty tough guy, so I can handle the cards I'm dealt.
Williams is trying to keep a positive attitude despite having gone through far more adversity than any 24-year-old should experience. A standout lineman at Alabama, Williams was drafted in the fifth-round of the 2013 draft, but has spent the past two seasons on injured reserve because of knee injuries.
And now Williams is facing his biggest battle yet, a bout with cancer that as of now is still ongoing. Surgery removed the largest mass, Williams said, but "they found traces of other stuff still there, so I've still got a little ways to go."
Williams sticks to positive updates on his Twitter and Instagram accounts and is motivated to not just beat cancer but also to have a long NFL career, but he also can't sugarcoat the run of bad luck that has kept that career from getting off the ground.
"It's pretty crappy at the moment," Williams said. "It's a lot of bad luck. I asked (my doctors) how you get stuff like this, and they said it's just purely bad luck. So hopefully they removed all that and I'm on the come-up for the rest of my career. I'm a pretty tough guy, so I can handle the cards I'm dealt and the situations I'm put in. I'm trying to make the most of the opportunities that I have. I'm still around, nothing's too drastic of life-threatening stuff right now, so I'm just taking it day by day and keeping myself positive, staying positive for my family and for myself. But yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to getting all cleared and getting back out there."
Williams has more tests ahead of him, most significantly a three-month scan in September that will determine what's next.
"Right now I'm just playing the waiting game, waiting to get more tests back," Williams said.
Williams realizes that his latest and most significant setback could cost him another season depending on what future tests reveal and when the Seahawks have to make roster decisions, but for now he's focused on getting back to full strength for whatever lies ahead.
"I can train and get myself back to fitness, fitness well enough to play, and that's what I'm going to do," he said. "Then I just wait until the three-month scan. It depends on what the team wants to do with designation and stuff like that, but for me the goal is to just work as hard as I can and get back to full fitness and strength and be ready for whatever cards I'm dealt at the three-month scan."
Getting the go-ahead to work out isn't the only positive news in an otherwise rough spring for Williams. His fiancé is pregnant with a son due in September, the positive balance, Williams says, to his negative diagnosis. Williams will be around for this week's minicamp, then will fly back to Australia to see family and also to come up with a contingency plan if his cancer treatment keeps him from flying home for the birth of his son. Delta, the team's official airline, is providing Williams with first-class and business class tickets—the recent surgery keeps him from sitting upright for long periods of time—for his two-week trip home.
"It will be good to get back and sort of get away from everything; it's been a rough couple of weeks," Williams said.
"It's going to be a long rest of the year, so I'm just trying to stay positive and stay healthy mentally and physically as well."