No one fears Eagles defense, Cary Williams says

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams. (Clem Murray/Staff Photographer)
Eagles cornerback Cary Williams. (Clem Murray/Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 13, 2013

Cary Williams says he wants to bring nastiness to an Eagles defense that is not feared around the NFL. That became clear last week against the New England Patriots, the cornerback said.

Williams was benched early during Tuesday's scrimmage when he got into a physical altercation with Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson. The former Raven said that the Patriots came into the NovaCare Complex with attitude and that he and his former teammates in Baltimore would have handled the situation differently than the Eagles.

"No question," Williams said. "They came in there talking. They had a lot of jokes, and . . . laughs, a lot of dirty plays that were going on. So there was a reason behind what I did, there was a reason behind the madness.

"At the end of the day, I've still got to do things the way Coach wants me to do it, and I understand that. But it definitely would have been a different situation if it was in Baltimore. It wouldn't have been a fun practice for the Patriots, I can tell you that."

Eagles coach Chip Kelly said last week that he and Patriots coach Bill Belichick had agreed to remove any players who fought during practice.

"If you do that in a game, you get kicked out," Kelly said Sunday. "We practice like we play."

Aside from the Williams-Dobson scuffle, there were no other incidents during Tuesday and Wednesday's scrimmages on in Friday's preseason game, a 31-22 Patriots victory. Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin said last week that he thought the Patriots tried to "bully" the Eagles.

Last season, former Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said that teams around the league "looked at us as a pretty defense." Williams, who was acquired as a free agent this offseason and came to the Eagles with a scrappy reputation, said that he wanted to established toughness on defense.

"I feel like we've got to establish a tenacity, a tough-nosed defense, a hard-nosed defense, something that's to be feared when it comes out to each and every week," Williams said.

"Brian Dawkins alluded to it a couple of times when I spoke to him. He was talking about bringing that fear back here. Right now, I don't know if there's anybody out there that fears this defense, especially after last week."

Kelly, who has run comparatively softer practices than previous Eagles regimens, was asked if he thought the team needed more of an edge.

"No, I don't," Kelly said. "I mean, we could go get in a street fight, that's not going to help us. There's a certain way you're supposed to play this game between the whistles. And the stuff after the whistles is not what we're looking for.

"And our players knew in that game and [Belichick] was the same way. One of the reasons we wanted to participate against the Patriots is because we knew this wasn't going to turn into a WWE brawl, because that's not what it is - it's a game of football."

Williams, who is expected to start this season, reinjured his hamstring when he returned to practice on Wednesday and missed Friday's game. The Eagles first-team defense struggled against quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots in the scrimmages and the game. There were a number of missed tackles up and down the depth chart.

"I think it was a lot of areas that wasn't crisp for us," Williams said.

Williams, 28, won a Super Bowl with the Ravens last season. He started every game the last two seasons and played along future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed on defense. The Eagles signed him to a three-year, $17 million contract in March and lauded his toughness and tackling.

Williams was fined $10,000 last September after he got into a fight with Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and made headlines when he shoved an official during the Super Bowl in February.

"Every time I strap up, that's my family," Williams said. "When I see guys getting blocked in the back in practice, when we've get told not to retaliate, be the bigger person, it's hard because I come from a different background. Me just relaxing and being cool and letting those people do what they do to me and me being a doormat, that's something I'm not used to."

Williams returned to practice Sunday and said there was "no question" he would be ready by the season opener. He's missed much of training camp and skipped most of voluntary spring workouts because he got married, was building a house, and underwent dental work.

Two weeks ago, Williams said that the racial slur receiver Riley Cooper used at a concert and how it was being handled by the team superseded the season. He said there was still an "elephant in the room" when Cooper left for an excused absence.

"I think it's an 'elephant in the room' as far as society," Williams said Sunday. "At the end of the day, I'm employed here to win football games. . . . Me and Riley had our own conversation. He spoke to me about the situation. Good, bad or indifferent or however it may have been, I forgive him because I haven't done everything in my life right."

Click here for complete coverage of Philadelphia Eagles training camp.


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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