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What Brandon Williams Is Working on to be 'Dominant'


Somebody is giving Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams bad advice. Good thing he's not taking it. 

Williams signed a five-year deal worth a reported $54 million in March, making him the highest-paid nose tackle in the game.

"People say, 'Oh you got a contract, and now you can kind of relax,'" Williams said. "There is no relaxing. It is actually that you got the contract, so now you have to earn your keep."

That's what Ravens coaches and fans want to hear.

Williams has been an anchor on Baltimore's defensive line over the past three seasons. He's a major reason why the Ravens were one of the top-five rush defenses in the league in two of those three seasons.

But even Williams knows he hasn't fully reached the potential that matches his massive frame.

"The next step for me, I feel like, is to just get better," Williams said.

"We are expecting a dominant player – flat-out," Head Coach John Harbaugh said in agreement. "He is capable of doing that."

Williams was among the top 15 run stopping interior defensive linemen last season, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). He was No. 3 in 2015. He said he can still become a better run stuffer and is "fine-tuning" his craft with Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen.

"But I'm more just trying to work on my pass rush," Williams said.

Williams has 4.5 sacks in his four seasons and one last year. While his PFF grades are high for run defense, he was the NFL's 16th-lowest graded interior lineman in pass rush.

Granted, among nose tackles, he's among the best. And he's not expected to be anywhere close to a double-digit sack guy.

Still, if Williams could develop more pass rush, it would make him an even more dynamic player. It would also lead to more snaps in passing situations.

"I need to get my sacks up. I need to get my pass rushing up," Williams said.

"I think he could because he is going to be a pocket pusher," Harbaugh added.  "He can work edges. Guys, we know he is athletic – you have seen all the things he can do athletically. I believe he can do it. Both he and Michael Pierce have shown pass rush ability as big players inside."

Williams is also looking to grow as a leader. He's the lone returning starter on the defensive line after Lawrence Guy went to New England in free agency and Timmy Jernigan was traded to Philadelphia.

Pierce, who had two sacks last season, and Williams worked well in tandem, and will be expected to build on that this season. Brent Urban, Bronson Kaufusi and Chris Wormley are competing for Guy's vacated starting spot.

Williams said he sees a "bunch of leaders" on the team, but he does feel the need to be one of the loudest voices now. Anyone who knows how personable Williams is knows that shouldn't be a problem.

"I feel like I have to carry the D-line on my back," Williams said. "I know who I am going to war with, and I am positive that we are going to do the same thing as last year or even better."

Harbaugh sees Williams stepping up already. Williams and Pierce trained together this offseason in Baltimore, and Williams is getting to know the team's rookie defenders during Organized Team Activities.

"I see it in the weight room, I see it out here on the field, and I see it in the meeting room," Harbaugh said. "I expect him to be a leader. He is a young guy, but he is the leader of that group. I expect him to be great."

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