"Obviously, there's going to be some catching up to do," Malzahn said. "We've got guys who have been to practice that we feel very good about, and he's in the process of playing catch-up. He's at the bottom of the depth chart, and he's going to have to earn his way back up. He understands that."
Williams led the Tigers with 45 catches for 730 yards last season and is a preseason first-team All-SEC selection. He had missed the last five days of practice for what Malzahn termed "discipline issues." Although Williams was back with the team Thursday, he did very little in practice.
"He's in the process every day of earning his coaches' and his teammates' respect," Malzahn said.
Malzahn declined to specify what Williams was required to do to get back on the team and was also vague about how much Williams would play, if at all, in the opener against Louisville.
"He's taken care of what he needed to right now, but he understands the severity of where we're at," Malzahn said.
Asked specifically if Williams would play in the opening game, Malzahn said, "It's a daily deal just like everybody else on our team. They're going to have to come out there and practice with a great attitude, great effort and earn their playing time on the field."
This is not Williams' first bout with discipline issues. He missed several games last season leading up to the Outback Bowl and then missed the game for breaking team rules. He considered turning pro, but opted to come back for his senior season.
Malzahn dismissed the notion that Williams was being given more chances because he's one of the Tigers' most talented players.
"I try to keep the same standard for everybody. That's how we operate around here," Malzahn said.