Where can cornerback Cary Williams improve this year?
Secondary Coach Teryl Austin has a clear answer.
"Cary has good ball skills, and it surprised me that he went through the season last year with no interceptions," Austin said last Wednesday. "I think that's the part of the game that will be a lot better. He will make some interceptions this year."
Williams started all 16 regular-season games and two playoff contests for the Ravens. He was around the ball a good amount, evidenced by his 18 pass deflections, but was never able to haul one in.
Lardarius Webb led the team with five picks, Ed Reed had three, Jimmy Smith had two and even outside linebacker Terrell Suggs got a pair.
It's odd that Williams didn't get a single one considering he has shown his good ball skills previously.
In the 2010 preseason, he picked off a pass in back-to-back games. He even played some wide receiver at tiny Division II Washburn College before being drafted. In one game he caught a touchdown pass, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and broke-up what would have been a game-winning score.
"I feel like I've got pretty good hands," Williams said after taking Saturday's M&T Bank Stadium practice off. "Last year was just one of those years. It doesn't bother me or anything like that."
It is on his mind, however. As he stood on the sideline during minicamp this year, Williams debated with safety Bernard Pollard, who had one interception last season, about which one of them will get more picks this year.
"It's important but it's not really that important," Williams said. "I just want to play within the confines of the game. If it comes it comes, if it doesn't it doesn't. I'm not going to stress myself over it."
Williams said he's not going to put himself out of position to try to make plays, and he just wants to be a physical player. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is one of the Ravens' best tackling cornerbacks, and finished with 77 stops last year, the third-most on the team.
For now, Williams is just trying to "shake off the rust" from an offseason hip procedure after playing last year with pain. He's competing with Smith for the starting position opposite Webb.
"We are very lucky to have two big guys like that fighting for that position," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "They are both doing really well in the classroom – both doing well on the field. So, I think right now it's still a great competition."