Safety Shawn Williams was the seventh Georgia Bulldog to be picked up by the Bengals on their current roster when he was selected in the third round. Most other former Bulldogs on the team's roster, including A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, Robert Geathers and Clint Boling, start or at least contribute heavily for the Bengals. Williams has been impressing players and coaches early and could be right on par with the rest of his college alumni.
"When I heard we drafted Shawn Williams (in the third round), you saw what he said before the Florida game?" asks Geno Atkins, one of seven seen-but-not-heard Bulldogs on the roster. "He basically called the defense out, saying they were soft and they came out fired up. With a couple of games under his belt and in a couple of years, he'll be a great leader for the Bengals."
Williams said it was Rey Maualuga that put the pressure on him when he reported for OTAs, saying that the rest of the guys from Georgia all play and he needs to do the same.
He has been showing he has what it takes so far in practice, especially in coverage where he has intercepted two passes. He was known as a run stopper while at Georgia and spent the majority of his time in the box. According to Geoff Hobson, he has also picked up the X's and O's of Mike Zimmer's defense fairly quickly, which is something that should be expected from an "SEC field general."
"I've got a great memory and that helps me with the playbook," says Williams, who points to his recent performance in Cincinnati's neurophysiology exam that sets the baseline for concussion treatment.
"They said I was off the charts when it came to the visuals. I never forget a face. I'm not that good with names, but I never forget a face. That's kind of how I picture the playbook."
The one thing the coaches want him to do is get more vocal. One thing the Bengals liked about Williams when they selected him in the third round was his ability to lead a defense and make changes from the safety position. That quality is what the Bengals liked so much about Chris Crocker as well. Assistant defensive coach Adam Zimmer believes that Williams will get more vocal when he gets more confident."He's a really smart guy; he picks up things really quickly," says assistant secondary coach Adam Zimmer.
"As he gets more confident, he'll get more vocal. That will make him an even better player. He really has good instincts for a safety just out of college.
"He kind of feels routes. He sees the quarterback and knows when to break. I've been really impressed with him. I think he's got a chance to be a pretty good player. He's a good enough athlete that if he uses good technique and good eyes and knows who he's going against he can get it done (in coverage)."
Williams planned on watching and learning from the veterans in the secondary and earning their respect before he began calling the shots on the field, but that plan may not work out if he wants to be named the starter at strong safety when the season starts.
In a camp battles poll asking the Cincy Jungle community (you) who they thought would start at strong safety, 74 percent (519 votes) believed the starter would be Williams while 19 percent thought it would be Mays. Atkins, who lets his play do the talking, believes Williams will find his voice this preseason and earn the respect from teammates and the coaches.
"You need that in a locker room," Atkins says. "If the defense or the team's not playing right, you need somebody to call the team out and say, 'Hey, you've got to play better.' Once he starts getting some plays underneath him, getting in preseason, and start playing in the real games, he's going to earn the respect."