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Shawn Williams steps up as a leader in the Bengals secondary

Shawn WIlliams wants to make sure his rookie safeties take advantage of having a couple of veterans at their position.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The theme for the Bengals secondary this offseason has been paying it forward.

We have already talked about Dre Kirkpatrick stepping up by teaching the corners the Bengals drafted this offseason. Shawn Williams has started his own efforts in helping out the rookies at his position as well.

“Today I felt like communication was something we could get better at. That’s what we’ve been emphasizing,” Williams told Geoff Hobson of “Just let (the rookies) know no question is stupid. He’s not going to see anything that we haven’t seen. Even the other guys, Trayvon and T.Y. We just try to make it easy for them. We don’t want them to get frustrated. Let them know this is what the next few months are going to be like.”

Williams hasn’t been brought along slowly by the coaching staff due to a hamstring injury. This has opened up, not only a chance to communicate with the younger guys on the sidelines, but it has also provided some very valuable reps for the Bengals’ second-round pick Jessie Bates III at safety.

“Just being ready with the system,” Bates said. “You can’t go in there with the veterans and play like a rookie. You have to go in there and play like a veteran.”

Bates was drafted with the expectation of playing fairly early. The new trend in the NFL seems to be headed towards a three safety fort of defense. Bates fits that sort of defense perfectly with the versatility to play the deep zone, inside the box or even cover a slot receiver or tight end. His athleticism and ball-hawking skills are going to make him a very fine addition someday.

Williams is making sure the rookie learns to walk before he tries to run in the NFL. After all, most of what makes a safety in the NFL successful has nothing to do with his athletic skill set. It is the little things.

“There’s a lot being thrown at them,” Williams said. “See how much they’re soaking in. Right now he’s doing pretty well. New formations and different route concepts. Stuff they’re not used to seeing. Right now he’s picking it up real well. Learning and gaining every day.”

Williams and George Iloka are invaluable assets for a young player like Bates. After any play, he can go to them and ask what he could of done better, and they will have the answer.

They will also be able to explain it from a perspective he can relate to as a player. It is great to see Williams pass it forward like Reggie Nelson did before him. It won’t be shocking to hear Bates doing the same one day as well.

The culture of sharing information that the Bengals have developed is such an asset.