With George Iloka on the shelf with an injured wrist, rookie Shawn Williams had an opportunity to take advantage of the increased playing time against the Titans on Saturday.
According to Dave Lapham during the game's broadcast, Iloka was frustrated after a play during practice and jammed his hand into the helmet of a young linebacker, injuring his wrist. Williams gratefully contributed by playing 71 percent of the defensive snaps (53) and led the defense with ten tackles.
"I feel like I improved from the first game. I missed a couple of tackles, but today I think I tackled well," Williams said after the game via Bengals.com. "I had 10 tackles, so that’s an area I improved on. I just have to keep getting better each and every week at something."
It's a continuing theme for Williams, who generated two pick-six interceptions during practice this week. At one point, Williams was forced out of the game after breaking his helmet.
"It was just an opportunity for me to come out and give the other guys a break so I could get my helmet fixed and return to the game," he said.
Williams was also forced out of the game in the third quarter after having the wind knocked out of him. He was covering a receiver's route towards the sidelines and dove in an attempt to knocked down the football. He returned on the following play.
If there's any concern about whether Williams makes the 53-man roster, there shouldn't be. As a third-round pick from the 2013 NFL draft, he's safe by default -- it's rare for teams to release rookies selected in the first four rounds. But Williams figures to be a significant contributor on defense this year, sooner rather than later.
However, it was Taylor Mays that started the game in place of Iloka at strong safety, generating four tackles in the second half after putting up a goose egg in the first.
Would it be premature to project the strong safety competition with Iloka in the lead, Williams second, and Mays third?