In first year of new contract, Ravens' Brandon Williams a veteran on young line
By By Callie Caplan
The Baltimore Sun|
Jun 01, 2017 at 4:50 PM
"I feel like we are going to be a great cohesive unit this year, and we are going to get things done,” Brandon Williams said when asked about the young defensive linemen on the roster. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams didn't hesitate when a reporter asked Thursday about his mental approach to offseason training.
Williams signed a five-year, $52.5 million deal with $27.5 million guaranteed during free agency — the richest contact for a nose tackle in NFL history — to stay with the team that made him a third-round draft pick from Missouri Southern State in 2013.
Rather than relax on his past performance, Williams has embraced his veteran status on a young defensive line.
"Money's good, don't get me wrong, but it's the same thing," Williams said. "It's grind time, and right now I'm worried about OTAs, and right now I'm worried about getting my guys together so we can have a great season."
Williams is the lone returning starter from last year's unit after Lawrence Guy joined the New England Patriots during free agency and the Ravens traded Timmy Jernigan to the Philadelphia Eagles in April.
Williams said that has pushed him to become more versatile.
Despite typically playing over center, Williams is studying every role on the line. With five of the group's players in their first or second seasons, Williams wants to answer questions to help them acclimate.
One of the second-year players is defensive tackle Michael Pierce, who has teamed up with Williams as starters during organized team activities. The 6-foot, 339-pound Pierce played in 16 games (one start) as an undrafted rookie out of Samford.
"The dude is stout man, and he can take up a few gaps and a few blockers if he needs to," Williams said. "I'm really happy that I've got him next to me. He's doing a great job coming in and just maturing as a player, as a pro, as a person."
Pierce's size allows him to play nose tackle, too, so Williams wants replicate the inside push Guy and Jernigan provided when he moves over.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh highlighted Williams' athleticism and range as reason the 6-1, 340-pound fifth-year player will be a "pocket pusher" this season.
"We're expecting a dominant player, flat-out," Harbaugh said. "He's got the capability of doing that. I see it in the weight room, I see it out here on the field. I see it in the meeting room. I expect him to be a leader. He's a young guy, but he's the leader of that group."