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Brandon Williams Stout Against Run In Early Showing


The role of a big, run-stuffing interior defensive lineman is a bit of a lost art in the NFL.

As offenses around the league have shifted to systems that increasingly try to spread out defenses with three wide-receiver sets, defenses place a much higher premium on pass rushers than block eaters.

But there is still a place for defenders who can clog up running lanes at the line of scrimmage, and Ravens second-year nose tackle Brandon Williams is proving a perfect fit for that job.

"That's my role," Williams said. "I definitely attack that role and have a great time doing it."

Williams, 6-foot-1 and 335 pounds, moved into a starting role alongside Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata this season, and he's shined as a run stuffer. Williams has just four tackles, but he's not expected to rack up big tackle numbers because his job is to free up linebackers to make plays.

The Ravens allowed just 79 and 99 rushing yards to the Bengals and Steelers, respectively, and Williams has been a big part of the stout defense up front. After the first two games, Williams graded out as the Ravens' second-best defender behind Terrell Suggs, according to Pro Football Focus.

"I feel good and feel like things are going well," Williams said. "I feel like I'm just doing my job. I'm just doing what the coaches are telling me to do and as a defense we're playing good ball right now."

The Ravens had big expectations for Williams coming into this season after a quiet rookie year where he played in only seven games as a reserve lineman.

Williams entered training camp as an expected starter and he made sure not to relinquish that role. 

"I definitely feel a lot more comfortable in my position," Williams said. "I definitely feel like as a defensive front we're playing off each other well. You know what the other guy is doing so you can play off him. That gives you more opportunities."

The Ravens will get tested on the ground this week against a Cleveland Browns team that has topped 100 yards in back-to-back games. The Browns have shown to be a run-first team early in the season, and that means Williams will play a key part in trying to keep them from getting into a groove with big chunks of yardage on the ground. 

"No. 1 thing is to stop the run," Williams said. "If they get the run going, then they have everything else to work off. You have to stop the run to make them one dimensional. That's the No. 1 goal."

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