The Bengals made headlines when they went out and signed safety Vonn Bell in free agency as part of their secondary overhaul. The move also left many fans questioning what would happen with veteran safety Shawn Williams.
Cincinnati’s already very committed to Jessie Bates III, who has looked like he has the potential to be big time player in the future, so many wondered if Williams would even make it to training camp.
Williams isn’t worried, though. He understands there is plenty of uncertainty give the delays that COVID-19 has provided for allowing coaches to get players on the field. He does believe that there is room for everyone in this defense.
”I’ll work with it and try to figure out what’s best for the team,” Williams told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “I don’t know how that plays out. I don’t even think they know right now because they haven’t really seen Vonn do anything and that’s no knock on Vonn. I just think they want to see everybody together on the field first. I’m confident they’ll figure how to use him and use me and everybody is going to be happy.”
Williams has been in this situation before. He was the third safety for a defense that had George Iloka and Reggie Nelson playing at a high level. He has always been a great teammate, and there is no doubt Cincinnati will value his experience on a unit that is drastically different from its 2019 counterpart.
There has been plenty of speculation of Bell or Williams playing more of a in-the-box type safety role, which would essentially take the place of a linebacker in certain situations. As Williams notes, it is hard for the defense to potentially plan that out without having these guys play it out on the field. He still has some reservations about completely giving up his spot on defense after being a two-time captain for the defense.
“But it has to work hand-in-hand if this thing is going to work,” Williams said. “It would kind of be hard, having your leader, having your alpha male for your defense, not only on your defense but on your team, not doing anything productive.”
This is a fair thought, but the reality is he will likely see drastically less playing time after playing the second most defensive snaps after Bates last season. There is no doubt that he will still be playing a fairly big role, but the question will be if it is big enough for what Williams wants.
There is still plenty of uncertainty, but it does seem like Williams understands he will be giving up a little bit next season. The main question seems to be whether there will still be enough of a role to keep him happy.