Back in 2008, the Tennessee Titans gave Cary Williams his first chance at an NFL job, selecting the little-known Washburn University cornerback in the seventh round of the '08 NFL Draft.
Williams spent the majority of his rookie season on the Titans' practice squad, and got little chance to make an impact in Tennessee before the Ravens signed the 6-foot-1, 182-lb. corner late in the 2009 season.
Tomorrow, Williams will be back on the field in Tennessee when the Ravens take on the Titans, and this time, he'll run out of the tunnel as a starter.
"They didn't want me, and Baltimore gave me an opportunity. To a degree, I want to prove they made a mistake by letting me go," Williams said. "They didn't give me too much of an opportunity. I don't have any animosity or hardened heart toward them. They're a great organization with great guys and I have some lasting relationships, but I do want to prove I belong and deserve what I've got now."
You've got to respect Williams' attitude. He sounds like a guy with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but a mature mindset, nonetheless.
Set to make his third career NFL start tomorrow, one thing Williams will need to adjust to is the physical toll that lining up for every defensive series takes on a player.
Prior to this year, Williams' only real responsibilities on gamedays were on special teams units. He'd play a handful of plays per game, but would have plenty of time between reps to stay hydrated and get a breather.
Now, Williams is out there for every defensive play plus some special teams action, as well. That workload resulted in some cramps last weekend against the Steelers, which caused Williams to have to leave the game for a bit.
With the Ravens working with an under-manned cornerback corps this week because of injuries to Chris Carr and Jimmy Smith, the team can't afford for Williams to cramp up and miss chunks of playing time against the Titans. That's why he knows his conditioning and hydration will be vital tomorrow, and even tonight.
"It was a tough transition from being just a special teams player and having that special teams mindset into just developing into a defensive mindset," Williams said. "It was more difficult going into the game just trying to be physically prepared and hydrated as possible. Last year, I didn't have much to worry about because last year I (knew) my role and it was as a special teams guy. Now, I'm playing special teams and playing defense, so there's a lot that's required.
"What I need to do is do better with hydration at night time and even this morning, but good thing those things didn't come into play too bad (against Pittsburgh) and develop bad plays or turn into bad plays for the team."