With the lights shining brightly last night, with a number of the Ravens' top cornerbacks out, a two-game suspension hanging over his head and a toe injury affecting his movement, Cary Williams delivered a big-time performance.
And boy, did he need it.
Williams hasn't had the smoothest summer.
The cornerback showed well in offseason minicamps, and looked to be positioning himself for a run at the Ravens' top nickel back position. Then, in July, it was announced that he had been suspended two games for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
He reported to training camp, but the momentum from his strong OTAs was gone, and he struggled in practices.
To top things off, leading up to yesterday's preseason opener, Williams suffered a toe injury which left his status for the game somewhat uncertain.
Williams fought through the injury, played, and had a great showing.
"Cary played really well," head coach John Harbaugh said. "It was good to see. I can't wait to see the tape, but from my eye on the sideline, I thought he played with great discipline. He really played with an attention to detail and technique. When he does that he's a heck of a player, so I enjoyed Cary out there, it was good to see."
Williams had three total tackles, three passes defensed, and he added an interception for good measure.
The pick came early in the third quarter, when the corner jumped in front of Panthers receiver Dexter Jackson and picked off Jimmy Clausen's pass. Williams even added a 32-yard return after the INT.
"I just basically read the route presnap," Williams said of the pick. "I knew that it was an out. I've seen that play before watching film and I just really wanted to get to the spot. I saw the quarterback and I beat him to the spot. The guy happened to fall down and I just made the play. I got there as fast as possible."
With Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb out of last night's game and Chris Carr seeing very limited reps, Williams was counted on to contribute significant minutes.
The two-year veteran admitted his injured toe made things a little more difficult on him, but downplayed the significance of the injury.
"It's just bumps and bruises that go along with camp," Williams said. "It's something I have to fight through. It's not quite a turf toe. It's something real sensitive at the bottom of my foot on the sides of my big toe. It's not that bad. I can play through it."
The conditions made it tough to throw throughout much of the game last night, and Carolina's anemic passing attack doesn't present much of a challenge for a legitimate NFL secondary.
But the Ravens' defensive backs held up despite limited numbers, and Williams was a big part of that.
"I didn't play the perfect game but I played to the best of my ability," he said. "I went out there and gave it 110 percent on every play."