FOXBORO, Mass. -- He knew it was coming. Cary Williams stepped on the practice field outside Gillette Stadium on Tuesday and heard it from the Patriots' fans: "Boooooooo ..."
Everyone knew it was coming. Williams last week said he wasn't in favor of joint practices and, most certainly, not with the Patriots, who were nabbed by the NFL in 2007 for spying on teams, a scandal known around the league as "Spygate." The Patriots were fined, head coach Bill Belichick was fined and the team lost its 2008 first-round draft pick as a result.
So Williams spoke out. And the story spread quickly and the Patriots reacted and the fans were heated and, well, they let Williams know when he stepped onto the field on Tuesday that they didn't appreciate what he said about their beloved Patriots.
"That's every day in the National Football League, man," said Williams. "If you let that stuff get to you, then you don't belong here. As far as I'm concerned, that's a regular day in the office."
It's not the first time we've heard Williams voice his opinion in the season-plus he's been an Eagle. He speaks his mind and he plays physical football. He's the kind of "edgy" player a defense loves to have. Williams backs up what he says by playing an emotional game of football and, frankly, I enjoy the energy.
Signed by the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent after helping the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl in the 2012 season, Williams was part of the defensive overhaul here under coordinator Bill Davis. Williams responded with a fine season. He recorded three interceptions and had a team-high 15 passes defensed. Williams opened 2013 with a sack and an interception of quarterback Robert Griffin III, a tone setter if there ever was one.
And as the Eagles' defense improved week over week, Williams was a staple with his fiery style of play on the island.
He wasn't about to let a little local "love" ruin a Tuesday during which the Eagles' defense showed just how far it has come since New England quarterback Tom Brady dissected it in the joint practice setting of a year ago at the NovaCare Complex.
"I guess last year we didn't understand the pace and we didn't understand our responsibilities within the defense," said Williams. "We were a team that was basically brand new coming together. We were just trying to get the system up under our belts and they took advantage of those things. They knew that, and Tom Brady is a savvy, great quarterback who is going to take advantage of those things when they present themselves. We got our defense up under us for a year, we added some new pieces and things like that, we shored up our communication and you see a better day of practice today.
"We just want to build off of it."
And then ... more questions about the statements he made last week, none from which Williams has backed away. Had he, asked a reporter, gotten any specific remarks from Patriots players today?
"If I did," said Williams, "I wasn't paying attention. I'm not necessarily sure if anybody gave me anything. It was a comment that I made and that was that. That was then and this is now and we're out here practicing with these guys and, like I said, I've got respect for them."
And what about the hype over his entrance?
"It's every-day life in the National Football League, man," he said. "If you don't get booed at some point, then you're not doing your job right. As far as I'm concerned I think it's a great opportunity for me to come out here and be better and get better and it's a great opportunity to play against a great challenge."
A cornerback isn't ever able to turn and hide when there is competition to be had. It's the "island mentality" that is so important to play the position, and Williams has it. He's got a refreshing view on the game, and on life. He's in the spotlight, and that's not a problem for Williams who understands that his performance will speak the loudest of all.
He came here, he heard it from the fans, and Cary Williams went out and was part of a defense that showed significant strides from where it was 12 months ago. At the end of the day, as the Eagles boarded their buses and headed back to their suburban hotel to study the film, that's all that really mattered. The play on the field spoke volumes above the words and the boos from a fun, competitive day of practice with New England.