Sylvester Williams has waited two years for this opportunity. Sure, he appeared in all 16 regular season games in 2014, starting 13 of them, but he was never the man in the middle. In Jack Del Rio’s 4-3 defense, Williams shared that role with Terrance Knighton, who often overshadowed the young defensive tackle.

At 6-foot-3 and exceeding 335 pounds, Knighton overshadows most everyone. But at 6-foot-2 and 315-plus pounds himself, Williams isn’t lacking in the size department. In fact, the only area he might have been lacking in the past two years was in opportunity. Now, with Knighton in Washington and the Broncos switching to a more aggressive 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips, the Broncos’ first-overall pick in 2013 is getting his chance to be that man in the middle he was drafted to be.

Early returns on Williams have been good, as the Denver defense has looked stout against the run in the team’s first two preseason games, but as the regular season approaches, the pressure will continue to mount on Williams to anchor the Denver line as Knighton did before him.

Williams spoke with the gathered media following Monday’s practice at UCHealth Training Center, and talked about his new role as a leader on the d-line.

Here are the highlights…

Sylvester Williams: “I’m excited about the opportunity that I was able to get this year with Terrance (Knighton) leaving. I just want to get better every day, and hopefully I can fill the gap.”

Williams: “I think when you’ve got a few years under your belt, you kind of know the ropes and you can teach a guy (like rookie Darius Kilgo) something, I think it would be selfish for us as players that know the rope, not to pass down knowledge. I think that Kilgo is a great player. I just tell him, ‘You’re strong as an ox, just go out there, be strong and play strong.’ That’s kind of the thing that fits him. He’s just strong. He’s a good player… I think he’s been showing a lot of progress. Really since day one, since I’ve first seen him play to now, I think he’s shown a lot of growth. He’s a strong guy—perfect for the nose tackle position. The thing about Kilgo is that he’s a hard worker and he gives 100 percent to get better every day. Every day I see something different that helps him improve as a player.”

Williams: “I think we (have) depth (on the defensive line). I think we’ve got guys that could start most anywhere in the league. We’ve got Vance (Walker), we got Kilgo and we’ve got Kenny (Anunike) coming back early. I think overall, we’re going to be pretty good. The thing about us is that we could all play three positions on the defensive line. I think that’s going to help us out a lot.”

Williams: “I think the biggest thing (I like about the new defense) is being able to go every day, but the biggest thing is the one-gap defense. I like it a lot better than the two-gap defense… It’s more of a one-gap scheme, so you can kind of penetrate a little bit more and play your gap better.”

Williams: “We try to stay away from messing with (Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware). We know when the regular season comes where the shining is going to come from, so we just take our shine where we can.”