Tonawanda News

August 3, 2011

Second-round pick Aaron Williams adds depth, size to Bills’ secondary

By Brandon Koch
The Tonawanda News

PITTSFORD — Cornerback Aaron Williams wasted little time getting the attention of his new teammates and coaches.

The No. 34 pick overall in April’s draft tallied the first interception of training camp on a Levi Brown pass intended for Donald Jones on Saturday.

A versatile defensive back with a knack for getting his nose on the ball, Williams has impressed through the first few days of camp. With Drayton Florence having to wait until today to get back on the field, Williams has performed well in his stead.

Though it’s still early, he has learned plenty.

“All the techniques, you know, how to be an NFL DB, because it’s different than college,” Williams said Tuesday. “I just come out here and learn responsibilities and play hard. That’s all you really can do.”

The Bills had the day off Wednesday due to new rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and with Florence back in the fold, it’s likely the rookie will slide down on the depth chart. But it certainly didn’t hurt getting Williams’ feet wet in his pro camp debut.

“He’s come in and he’s gotten into the mix here with first team,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “With all the things that are happening as far as the rules, who can practice, who can’t practice, he’s done a great job of picking up what we’re asking him to pick up.”

Sure, Williams has made his share of rookie mistakes in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, but he’s held his own, Edwards said.

“You can see him competing, getting his hands on the ball,” he said. “At this point in time, we’re just looking for that consistency in his performance.”

Williams said he wouldn’t have it any other way. The Bills spent a high draft choice on a position that, on paper, was already deep with Florence, Terrence McGee, Leodis McKelvin and Reggie Corner. That veteran presence, Williams said, has helped immensely thus far.

“It’d be hard to come to a team that doesn’t have that many veterans,” Williams said. “But I’m learning from guys who’ve been in the league for a while. I just take notes every day on how to survive in the league and learn how to become that playmaker.”

Williams did it all at the University of Texas, both in coverage and in the run game. At 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds, he’ll add a physical dimension to the Bills’ secondary.

“He’s another guy that has played inside in the slot, outside at corner,” said Edwards of Williams, who ended former Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford’s career on a sack in the 2009 Red River Shootout. “The more he can do, the more things we can get him trained at, the more we can get implemented and use his talents.”

His physicality is a plus, but with just four interceptions in his collegiate career (none in his junior season), Williams will have to improve on finishing plays and reeling in passes. Williams has received plenty of advice from his teammates, most notably, safeties Jairus Byrd and George Wilson. Byrd had nine interceptions as a rookie, something Williams said sets a good example for him.

“Not so long ago, (Byrd) led the league in interceptions,” Williams said. “When you have a squad like that, you have no choice but to take notes. For him to have that many interceptions you have to find ways to pick their minds to find out what they did that made them successful.”

Their best advice: Study the playbook as much as possible.

“Once you know your responsibilities and actually study the game — because everybody on the field is great and everybody is athletic, everybody is big, fast and strong,” Williams said. “Just that mentality, that mental side of the game, that’s what makes you better.”

Contact Tonawanda News sports editor Brandon Koch at 693-1000, ext. 117.