Cary Williams remembered working out in the offseason wondering how the Ravens’ decision to use their first-round pick on Jimmy Smith would affect Williams’ candidacy to be a starting cornerback.
“The future was untold and you weren’t sure what was going to happen with Jimmy Smith or whether he was going to come back and be put into the place,” Williams recalled Thursday. “With that stuff in the back of your mind, I guess it kind of motivated me and helped propel my game to bring my game to another level.”
Williams proved to be a find for the defense, starting all 16 games just two years removed from being dismissed by the Tennessee Titans.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Williams finished second on the team only to fellow cornerback Lardarius Webb in pass breakups with 18. Williams also ranked third in tackles with 77, which ranks eighth in the NFL among cornerbacks.
Williams credited his performance to the offseason work he filed despite the lockout, which forced teams to cancel minicamps and Organized Team Activities.
“I just wanted to continue with the hard work and stay focused on each and every play,” he said. “There were going to be bumps in the road, there were going to be mistakes made, but I just wanted to learn from every experience given to me and try to make sure that those things don’t happen again.”
While Williams may have been an unknown commodity to people outside of the organization, Webb was confident that Williams would succeed.
“He got better throughout training camp,” Webb said. “We knew he would have a great season because of how he came out playing. He’s had a great season, and he’s learned so much. He’s going to be a big part of this Ravens defense in the future.”
Williams said he spoke with strong safety Bernard Pollard about his journey from Titans castoff to Ravens starter. Although getting to this point has been enjoyable, Williams said his mission is still unfinished.
“To a degree, I can dwell on it and I can talk about it with my family and I can talk about it with my teammates, but after that, it’s playoff time,” he said. “So I’ve got to go ahead and not really reflect on that stuff, but think about just getting better and thinking about my responsibilities. … I’ve just got to continue to play well and do what I do. Play with technique and play with physicality, come up and make tackles, and play within the confines of the defense.”