Leave it to Lap.
A couple of hours before kickoff on Friday night as we discussed some of the players we were looking forward to seeing in the preseason opener, my broadcast partner Dave Lapham brought up defensive tackle DeShawn Williams, the undrafted rookie out of Clemson.
“He’s going to kill them if he’s in there against the third string,” said Lapham.
Williams (#69) entered the game with 9:33 remaining in the fourth quarter and quickly got to quarterback Ricky Stanzi as he released an incomplete pass on third down and seven.
“He was right there in my lap,” said Williams. “I wish he would have held the ball a little longer – then I would have had two sacks.”
On the play, Williams was double-teamed by center Brett Jones and guard Michael Bamiro, but kept fighting until he got to Stanzi as the quarterback rolled to his left.
“There’s a young man I noticed right away in camp,” said analyst Anthony Munoz on the TV broadcast. “The thing that I noticed was his speed, his quickness, and he goes 100% the whole time. He never stops.”
“On that play, he rolled out and I just gave great effort,” said Williams. “Things might not always go good as a rookie, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving effort.”
The 22-year-old got his first sack on the Giants’ next offensive snap when he nailed Stanzi for a nine yard loss.
“The guy’s got a motor and when he separates he can accelerate,” said Lapham. “He’s always penetrating, showing up, and making plays.”
Williams was on the field for 11 plays and hit the quarterback twice.
“I just waited for my opportunity,” DeShawn told me. “Even though I didn’t get that many reps, I prepared like I was a starter. Then when my number got called, I tried to just go out and play ball and have fun. That’s what Coach Guenther and Coach Hayes told me to do. Just go out there and attack.”
On his sack, Williams again beat two blockers to get to the quarterback, using an inside move to blow by right guard Eric Herman before brushing aside running back Akeem Hunt as he tried to help.
“I knew that my reps would be limited so I had to give it my all,” said Williams. “And that’s true whether it’s one rep, two reps, or 70 reps. Give it your all because coaches are looking for guys that are going to give effort. Nobody can measure your effort – that’s on you. That’s the man in the mirror. I never want a coach to say, ‘He’s not an effort guy.’ That speaks a lot about you. I want to give it my all so that they can count on me when I get in the game.”
“They’re teaching them right down at Clemson,” said Lapham. “They’ve got something like six or seven guys from last year’s defense in NFL camps.”
Williams appeared in 53 games for the Tigers during his college career to tie for fourth-most in school history, but still wasn’t drafted. According to his NFL.com draft profile, DeShawn is “shorter than desired checking in at under 6-foot-1 and a little top heavy.”
Three-time Pro Bowler Geno Atkins received a similar scouting report before the Bengals selected him in the fourth round in 2010.
“They call me ‘Baby Geno’ in the locker room, but I haven’t done anything yet to reach that status,” said Williams. “I try to learn from him each and every day. Just to have an All-Pro in your room – you get star struck and I’ve got nothing but praise for him. He’s a wonderful teammate.
“I’ve never met a guy like Geno. He’s just a freak of nature man. One day I hope I can reach his status but it’s going to take some work.”
Williams isn’t likely to be as great as Atkins, but his NFL career and the Bengals season got off to a good start against the Giants.
“This is something to build on, but we haven’t done anything yet,” he said. “We still have to work but it feels good.”
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