Cary Williams plans to hold his tongue more this season

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams. (Michael Perez/AP file)
Eagles cornerback Cary Williams. (Michael Perez/AP file)
Posted: May 01, 2014

This is Cary Williams' second spring in Philadelphia, and it is expected to be quieter than his first. Williams did not necessarily endear himself to Eagles fans last year with his occasional offseason program absences and subsequent explanations.

But Williams started all 16 games at cornerback for the Eagles and was an important contributor on a struggling defense. He is expected to return as a starter, and will need to help the NFL's worst pass defense. He also will remain an outspoken voice in the locker room - albeit a little more careful with his words.

"I don't think I'm going to change much, but I think I'm going to be more wise with what I'm going to say," the 29-year-old Williams said. "I'll think before I react and talk a lot more. But for the most part . . . I don't think I'll change too much. I'll just be Cary Williams."

The Eagles still could address the cornerback spot in next month's draft, but their only move at the position this offseason has been adding free agent Nolan Carroll.

The Eagles retained Williams this year with a $4.75 million base salary, which is an indication that they expect him to start. Known for his aggressive playing style, he expects to be used in a role suited to that in 2014.

Returning players are confident that the defense will improve because of more familiarity in the scheme and coordinator Bill Davis' better understanding of the personnel. Williams is one of those players who think the second season can be more productive. The second half of last season offered reason for optimism.

Williams said he feels more confident, "understanding I can be more aggressive now that I spent a lot more time in the playbook, a lot more time within the defense."

The starting secondary played together for the first time last season. Unless a draft pick enters the lineup, safety Malcolm Jenkins, a free-agent signee, will be the only new starter in the defensive backfield.

Williams could wind up covering former teammate DeSean Jackson, who is now with the Redskins. Williams and Jackson engaged in a shoving match in a 2012 matchup when Williams played for Baltimore, and he spent all of last season practicing against Jackson. Williams admitted he was "shocked" when the Eagles released the Pro Bowl receiver, although he said he learned that he can worry only about "Employee 26" and will leave the decisions up to coach Chip Kelly and the front office.

"We trust [Kelly's] decision-making, because he hasn't done anything for us not to trust it," Williams said. "The proof is basically in the pudding."

Kelly had honest conversations with Williams last season after some of the cornerback's offseason remarks gained attention. The team's reluctance to spend on a top free agent at the position is evidence that the coach believes in Williams, and there will be two meetings against Washington when Kelly will need his defensive backfield to demonstrate improvement. Williams, ever competitive, is aware of Jackson's excitement about those games.

"I'm glad he went on national television and said that," Williams said. "I think that lights a fire under everyone's behind. There's room for a great rivalry in this league, and why not make it a big one with the Redskins?"


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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