Bobbie Williams remembers the many battles he had with the Ravens during his eight seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, and judging by the comments made by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and head coach John Harbaugh, Ravens defenders haven’t forgotten them either.
Williams agreed to a two-year contract last Friday, and though he still has to rumble with Ngata and linebacker Ray Lewis during practice, he is excited to switch sides in the AFC North rivalry and make a strong push for “the major accomplishment that everybody plays this game for.”
“It’s a good feeling being here with a franchise, with a team that’s known for being physical and known for being winners,” said Williams, calling this a “great opportunity” to win a Super Bowl.
The 35-year-old guard has spent the first two days of the team’s mandatory minicamp blocking for the first-team offense. Williams has started 130 career games, the majority of them at right guard, but he appears to be the frontrunner in the open competition to start at left guard. His base salary over the next two years is $2.125 million with a reported signing bonus of $800,000.
Williams has been getting to know his new teammates and learning new terminology over the past couple of days, but he doesn’t foresee any struggles from a technique standpoint. He downplayed switching from right guard to left, saying that it mostly entails reversing some of his footwork, and he feels he is athletic enough to thrive in the offense’s zone blocking scheme.
He said Cincinnati runs more of “an inside, power-type zone” and the Ravens use a lot more outside zone, which can stretch out defenses to open up wide running lanes for backs. He expects to quickly get comfortable in this scheme so he can later make opponents very uncomfortable.
“It’s good for me, a big guy that can move that has a little strength. So you get that defense stretched, you can use your upper body to torque them a little bit more and that’s just more lanes for the running back,” said Williams, who appeared to be muscular and fit at 345 pounds.
Ngata, for one, is happy Williams will no longer be trying to torque him on Sunday afternoons.
“Man, I’m not going to have as much of a headache anymore playing Cincinnati, I think,” Ngata said Wednesday. “Me and Bobbie, we used to go at it all the time. We have so much respect for each other. … I’m happy we have him here and I think we’ll get a lot of good things out of him.”
Harbaugh said that he and Lewis have joked about not having to mess with him anymore, too.
“I told Ray all these years I was just trying to give him some love by hugging him,” Williams said.
Williams missed Cincinnati’s final four games last season, including the season finale against Baltimore, because he broke his ankle in Week 14. He also missed the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. He called it the toughest season of his 12 in the league, but he believes that it has sharpened his focus for his final years.
He and the Bengals parted ways after the season, and Williams doesn’t seem to harbor any resentment. He said it was a “good run” with the Bengals.
“But you know what, I plan on having a better run here,” Williams said with a sly grin.
And trust me, the big, physical lineman definitely knows who is on the schedule in Week 1: the Bengals, who travel to M&T Bank Stadium for Baltimore’s first Monday night game since 2007.
“I think I might be a little bit more excited than them. They’re used to seeing me in practice and they know that it’s a good challenge for them,” he said. “They know I liked to lean on them.”