Imagine you’re sprinting out of the tunnel before an NFL game at M&T Bank Stadium, hearing your name called in front of over 70,000 raucous fans.
Do you break out in a dance, Ray Lewis style? Do you point to the crowd, or up to a family member? Or maybe you pound your chest to get yourself pumped up.
If you’re Cary Williams, you don’t do any of those things. Not because you didn’t intend to, but because your lack of experience getting introduced with the starters caused you to miss out on the moment.
“I waited too late to do the (chest pound),” Williams said after the Ravens’ win last night, a giant smile creeping across his face. “The camera was off me. It was just funny, man. They was already calling the next dude.”
“I got kind of scared when I went out there,” he added, still laughing. “Didn’t know what the heck to do. I was kind of nervous.”
You’ll have to excuse Williams; he’s not used to being one of the ones getting an individual introduction before a home game. The third-year cornerback has just one NFL start in his career, and while he started last week’s preseason game against the Chiefs, the offense got the intros that night.
Williams’ hope is that he’ll get many more future chances to get that chest pound out in time, before the stadium camera cuts away from him.
He’s continued to get reps with the Ravens’ first-team defense in practice, even as veteran cornerback Domonique Foxworth was shuffled into the top unit. Last night, it was Foxworth and Williams getting the start, with rookie Jimmy Smith and third-year man Lardarius Webb coming off the bench.
Williams had another solid night last night, posting one tackle, getting a good hit in on Skins quarterback Rex Grossman on the first series of the game, and breaking up a near touchdown pass intended for Santana Moss. He and Smith had a miscommunication on a touchdown pass to Moss three plays after the pass breakup, but that was the lone major blip on the night for the Washburn University product.
It could certainly be argued that Williams has been the Ravens’ most consistent corner this preseason, and thanks to his performance and size (6-foot-1), he’s making a major bid for a starting spot come Week 1 of the regular season.
“I think I’ve done that, but at the end of the day, there’s still some things I need to work on,” Williams said. “It’s the coaches’ decision at the end of the day. I don’t want to make the decision for those guys easy. I definitely want to have some thought in that whole process, give them the opportunity to think about many options and me being one of them. But I just come in each and every day and continue to work hard. Hopefully, all that stuff will pay off and it will work itself out at the end of the day.”
If he keeps performing at this level in practice, it would be hard to imagine Williams not earning significant playing time once the games that count roll around. Foxworth (knee) and Chris Carr (hamstring) are still working back from injuries, and it remains to be seen how they’ll factor into the cornerback rotation once healthy.
But Williams might get another shot to perfect that chest pound coming out of the tunnel, and that shot could come as early as the Sept. 11 opener against Pittsburgh.
“It would definitely feel great,” Williams said. “It would be a dream. I always wanted to play in the NFL since I was a little boy, and I’ve been blessed over this short period I’ve been in the league to even make it here. Especially from all those trials and tribulations that I’ve been through.
“For me to get here, it’s definitely a blessing, and for me to go out there with the starters on Sunday (against the Steelers) and be introduced with the ‘ones’ would be a dream come true.”