Tall and quick, cornerback Cary Williams showed enough promise in offseason workouts and training camp to make the Ravens' roster last season. When the team chose two cornerbacks among its first five picks in the April draft, the 6-1 defender wondered if he had a future in Baltimore.
The Ravens' secondary is in flux. Fabian Washington, benched in mid-season, said at the end of the year he wants out, and he'll have the chance to leave in free agency. Chris Carr and Josh Wilson, who were starters much of the year, are free agents as well. Carr has said publicly he wants to stay. The addition of Smith would seem to indicate Wilson is gone.
Returning is Lardarius Webb for his third season and veteran Domonique Foxworth for his seventh after losing all 2010 to knee surgery. Incoming corners are first-round pick Jimmy Smith and fifth-round pick Chykie Brown.
Depending on who re-signs with the Ravens and how well Brown plays, Williams could be the odd-man out this year. It's a motivating factor in his summer workouts at Middle Tennessee State.
"I'm busting my behind like I'm not going to be there," Williams said. "It's giving me an extra push, keeps me motivated. ... I want to be in Baltimore. Chuck is the best defensive back coach I've ever had."
Chuck is Chuck Pagano, who replaced Greg Mattison as defensive coordinator this year. the new secondary coach is Teryl Austin. Williams hasn't met Austin or talked to Pagano since the lockout. So he remains in the dark over the team's plans -- or lack thereof -- for him.
For now, he is bonding with his 2-year-old daughter in Nashville and working out regularly at Middle Tennessee State with a handful of NFL players, including Renaldo Hill.
"I've been working out every day," he said. "I'm going a little harder than I did last year. I think I'm in the best shape of my life. ... I've missed football, though. I've missed the camaraderie, the smell of the grass, getting out and hitting somebody, backpedaling with pads on."
Williams, 26 and a former draft pick with the Titans, has increased his weight from 182 to 193. He played in 13 games last season and was a big contributor on special teams (he caught a pass from punter Sam Koch against Miami). This year he wants a chance to play in the secondary.
"I just want to make sure I'm prepared," Williams said. "All I want is an opportunity."