Once upon a time, Cary Williams was a seventh-round pick out of division-II Washburn bouncing back and forth between the Tennessee Titans' practice squad and active roster. Then, at the tail end of his second season in 2009, Williams was plucked away from Tennessee and signed to the active roster of the Baltimore Ravens. Two years later, Williams earned a starting role for the Ravens, beginning a two-season stretch in which he would start every game for the Ravens, culminating in a Super Bowl victory.
Williams then hit the open market as an in-demand player at a premium position, eventually signing with the Eagles. But through it all, Williams has kept that division-II, seventh-round chip on his shoulder.
"I knew coming out that I was going to be a bottom-tier type guy, or seen as a bottom-tier type guy, and I understood that, understood that role," Williams told PhiladelphiaEagles.com. "But at the end of the day, I understood that that wasn't going to be my end-all, be-all. I was going to change people's perspective. So yeah, I walk around with a chip on my shoulder, yeah I want to prove myself and yeah I want to prove people wrong. I want to prove the doubters wrong. There's a lot of people that still doubt me today and I'm still going to continue to prove them wrong, regardless of the check, the numbers I got, whatever. I still want to continue to improve, I still want to continue to get better and I plan on doing so with the Eagles.
When watching Williams, you'll notice that said chip often translates to, well, chippiness on the field. Eagles fans will remember Williams and DeSean Jackson getting into a bit of a shoving match during the Week 2 meeting between the Eagles and Ravens last season, one of several scraps on Williams' resume. Though he hopes to eliminate the physical post-play activities, Williams won't apologize for playing with passion.
"It's a learning process that we all go through," Williams said in his introductory press conference. "I think that that situation that happened last year was something that I can learn from, something I can grow from and eliminate that from my game, but still have that competitive edge and still carry that same toughness out there each and every Sunday. I just plan on eliminating that from my game, but still keeping that competitive edge and continuing to maintain what I started and continue to grow as a player.
"Intimidation is huge in this game. I think it's one thing to intimidate, but also to go out there and play physical each and every week, week in and week out, guys look at film, and they notice those things and take those things to heart."
Williams later noted that he and Jackson talked later in the game and came to an understanding about the fiery nature with which both players play.
"It's football. There are two guys that were trying to help their team win. We were frustrated at the time. It was a close game. It was a battle. And it was a hard fought game between us two," Williams said. "I think that DeSean will welcome me with open arms. I think this organization believes in me, and I look forward to building relationships with my teammates."
It's a good thing that Williams is looking forward to building relationships with his new teammates, because there will be a lot of getting used to each other in the secondary. Along with Williams, the Eagles signed three other secondary players in free agency: cornerback Bradley Fletcher and safeties Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung. With a full offseason ahead to build camaraderie among the back four, Williams is anxious to get started.
"I think it starts right now in the off season," he said. "I'm definitely going to get Kenny's phone number. We're going to communicate. I think you have to build those relationships. It starts in the offseason, it starts in (organized team activities). In order for us to be successful, I feel like everybody needs to be here both offensively and defensively. That's how it was in Baltimore, and it matriculated into success.
"We're going to go into this as a family. We all want to be successful. That is the one thing I got from us eight guys signing, seven guys, however guys that signed. We all had a taste for that success. We all know what it takes to be successful. I think Coach Kelly sees that in each and every one of us, and that's why we're here today."
As the Eagles turn the page from a disappointing few seasons in the secondary, Williams surprised some when asked which cornerback he's modeled his game after in terms of playing style. Not one to shy away from the truth, Williams name-dropped one of the players he'll be replacing in Philadelphia.
"You might not like this, but I model myself after Nnamdi (Asomugha)," he said. "He didn't have much success here, but I don't plan on going down that path. But I always see myself as him because he's a taller, leaner guy, and a guy that I actually liked with a skill set … When he was in Oakland, everybody in here knows he was a force out there. As a guy growing up watching the guy, that's the guy who I watched was Nnamdi.
"Unfortunately he wasn't able to duplicate that success here, but I plan on doing otherwise."
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