Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees deflected personnel questions to Head Coach John Harbaugh.
But when asked whether the Ravens were comfortable waiving veteran Marcus Spears because of their faith in rookie defensive tackle
“Obviously we wouldn’t get rid of somebody if we didn’t have somebody else coming up and playing pretty well,” Pees said. “[Williams and Tyson] are a couple of good, young players.”
Williams was drafted in the third round this year out of Missouri Southern, and immediately impressed coaches and teammates with his sheer size and strength.
Now he’s becoming a well-rounded NFL player. Williams has been limited to just 56 defensive snaps so far, about a quarter of the defensive action.
With Spears now gone, it’s Williams’ shot to impress.
“It stinks to see a guy like that go, but at the same time it’s the NFL,” Williams said, sounding like a hardened veteran already. “You miss him and he’s a great guy, but it gives me an opportunity to step up and show what I can do.”
After learning of Spears’ release, Williams immediately got on his phone and texted him, thanking Spears for teaching him how to be a pro.
Spears worked with Williams on learning the mental aspect of the game, which is why the Ravens now feel comfortable giving Williams more action.
Pees said it was simply a matter of Williams getting more familiarity with what he was supposed to be doing on every play, from lining up in the right spot to hitting the correct gap.
“I just think the guy has made great strides,” Pees said of Williams.
“We know he’s a powerful guy, a tough guy, a strong guy, he can hold the point. When he got trouble and wasn’t holding the point, [it] was because there was indecision in how he’s playing. I think there’s less and less indecision, which makes you play faster and stronger.”
Williams has already shown flashes. In Miami, he made a nice play sniffing out a screen pass and coming up with a tackle for loss in the open field. He got his first career sack against Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
“I feel like I can definitely hold my own. I’m not getting blown off the ball five yards or 10 yards,” Williams said. “If I get more plays, hopefully I can produce a little bit more.”
Williams isn’t alone in getting a vote of confidence from Ravens coaches. Tyson, a seventh-round pick out of Georgia last year, will also likely see an increase in snaps.
Tyson was active for 10 games and started two last year. He’s been active for five this season, and made one tackle. Tyson’s best spot is playing three or five technique (lined up between the center and guard or between the guard and tackle), but he can line up anywhere.
“He’s kind of the utility guy in there,” Pees said. “He’s another guy, to me, who has really progressed here lately and has shown signs of really being a contributor.”