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Aaron Williams Shows Promise Early, and Other Camp Notes
Notes, thoughts, and commentary from the Bills’ preseason practices at St. John Fisher College.
Very few would have predicted that Aaron Williams would be the most pleasant surprise of training camp through the first week. Going back to pick 34 overall in April’s draft, fan expectations were both high and varied. After selecting perhaps the safest prospect in the entire draft, speculation ranged from still available top QB prospects Andy Dalton and Ryan Mallett, to the option of finally landing an elite TE in Kyle Rudolph, and prospects at many other positions. While Bills backers did not find consensus in which player to take, they were united by their excitement.
And than Buffalo selected Aaron Williams, managing to kill that excitement quickly and effectively. Any mention of the words ‘corner’ or ‘running’ followed by ‘back’ in the 3rd round or higher is a certain way to send chills down the spine of a Bills fan. Even the most reasoned among us were disappointed that management seemed to be failing once again to address critical areas such as offensive line, pass rush, or quarterback.
If the anticlimactic mood that surrounded Williams’ selection was disheartening, it was at least short lived. Subsequent selections of an energetic ILB thumper, an online workout warrior pushing 4 bills, and others kept us talking until there was nothing left but endless lockout speculation; followed by the end of the lockout; followed by a feeling of relief that even if the Bills were 2-14 this year, at least we would get to spend our Sunday afternoons witnessing it.
Which brings us to the beginning of training camp, where we get to catch our first glimpses of how well the NFL freshman adjust to ‘life in the real world.’ So far nothing extraordinary (Marcell Dareus’ lack of ‘adjustment period’ fails to surprise) has come of the Bills class of 2011, with the exception of Aaron Williams.
In the first days of camp, no player other than Merriman has turned heads the way that Williams has. From practically every journalist that has reported on training camp so far, Williams has made his presence felt. That the Texas Rookie has shown the excellent strength jamming receivers is less surprising than it is a confirmation for his high draft pick. That, as a rookie, he has looked like the best cornerback on the unit (that includes a former 11th overall draft pick) by virtue of ball hawking and intercepting is cause for genuine excitement.
While Williams may have been merely been the latest in a long line of high cornerback selections by the Bills, he has quickly proven to be cut from a different cloth. Buffalo cornerbacks are usually sure cover men and tacklers, but they also have not been particularly physical at the line of scrimmage recently. Williams appears poised to change this by being just as big and physical, if not more so, than many of the WR’s he figures to line up against. If what he shown in practices thus far carries over into the regular season, Tom Brady’s twice annual war of attrition on Buffalo the defense via the 7 yard hitch/slant figures to be no sure victory. And that is enough to cause even the most jaded corner-critic Bills fan to smile.
Other quick notes…
-As mentioned before, Shawn Merrimane appears to have shut the lights back off (or out). This is a critical development, look for more on the situation later in the week.
-Marcus Easley… gulp. Like most, I am swept up in the excitement stemming from reports of Mr. Easley’s ‘beastliness’ during Organized Fitz Activities. Let’s just hope the hyperextension is only a short term setback.
-Other injury notes: Kelvin Sheppard is out for a week or so, Shawn Nelson was shaken up, and Domonic Cook’s training camp (and thus chance of making the team) is over.
-Arthur Moats has been calling plays at the ILB position. Mr. Moats’ move from OLB may have been mysterious, but appears not to be aribitray.
That’s all for tonight. I’ll be in attendance Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, so look for a first hand account of the practices this weekend.