Cary Williams has Pro Bowl as his goal

Jordan Matthews waves to fans as he walks off the field during the Eagles' first open practice.
Jordan Matthews waves to fans as he walks off the field during the Eagles' first open practice. (DAVID MAIALETT / Staff)
Posted: July 30, 2014

In the last three years, Cary Williams developed into a regular NFL starter, won a Super Bowl ring, and earned a contract that pays him more money than he ever could have dreamed.

The 29-year-old has carved a reputation as a solid cornerback, but he is not considered to be in the NFL's top tier. When he was on the free-agent market in March 2013, Williams agreed to a three-year, $17 million deal with the Eagles - starter's money, but not the type a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback commands.

But that's what Williams aspires to entering his second season with the Eagles, his fourth as a starter, and his seventh in the NFL.

"I want to get a Pro Bowl," Williams said. "I want to be known as one of the guys who's at the top of the league at what he does. I don't think my stats tell anything different. But at the end of the day, I want to make a couple of more 'wow' plays. That's something that's my personal goal."

Williams will earn $4.75 million this season - the highest salary of any cornerback on the Eagles roster - and is coming off a season in which he took more snaps than any other cornerback in the NFL.

Part of that was because the Eagles defense stayed on the field for so many plays, and the league's worst pass defense didn't help. But Williams was durable, and he's a starter. So the opportunity will be present; it's just a matter of his performance.

Williams' strengths are his ranginess and his physicality; he has not been a ball hawk during his career. Williams had three interceptions last season and four in 2012 with Baltimore. With 15 pass knockdowns, he tied Bradley Fletcher for the Eagles high, and Fletcher played three fewer games.

When asked whether those "wow" plays are what keep him from the distinction he yearns for, Williams said, "It's a lot of things."

"I don't know whether it's the voting process, whether it's me not having a name, whether it's me coming from a Division II school to being where I am today," Williams said. "I don't know. But I try to go out each and every year and try to improve on something."

By Williams' own admission, he is neither as quick nor as fast as he was when he tried breaking into the league out of Washburn College in 2008. But his technique has improved, and he said he has developed the patience to understand footwork and hand placement.

He also strove to bring a certain "nastiness" to the Eagles defense last season. Williams was kicked out of a joint practice with the New England Patriots during training camp after an altercation. He said he was a "rebellious cat" and "wanted to set the tone and let guys know we're not going to be pushed around."

When the Eagles visit New England for practices next month, Williams said his team will be different.

Through three days of practices, that has been clear. After LeSean McCoy and Trent Cole needed to be separated on Sunday, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and Fletcher threw punches on Monday. Maclin stormed off the field without comment after practice. Fletcher said "emotions got going" and "it's football."

"It's no different than sometimes little kids don't get along very well and throw Tonka trucks at each other," coach Chip Kelly said of Sunday's tussle.

Williams, to no surprise, had no issue with the entanglements. He called them a part of camp, noting that players are not getting much sleep and that practices are competitive.

"You're going to see more fights," Williams said.

The biggest surprise might be that he has not been involved in one yet.

"Mine's coming," he told reporters.

That's one pledge he has proved he can fulfill. If he can live up to his Pro Bowl aspirations, then the Eagles will be happier.


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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