Training camp is right around the corner, and as always, there are several key storylines to keep an eye on at this point in the offseason.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll highlight some of the more noteworthy ones set to play out at Jack Hammett Sports Complex as well as during the preseason.
Will Trevor Williams Return to Form?
Big things were expected out of cornerback Trevor Williams a year ago.
After all, one year after inking a deal as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State, Williams appeared in 15 games with 16 starts in 2018, totaling 55 tackles, 13 passes defensed and a pair of interceptions.
Unfortunately, an ankle injury suffered in training camp sidelined him until the start of the season, and it nagged him all year long before he was eventually shutdown in December. As a result, he was limited to just seven starts in nine games, logging only 22 tackles, five passes defensed and one interception.
So, the question heading into this year’s training camp is if Williams can return to form now that he’s once again healthy.
The good news is it appears to be trending in that direction.
All you need to do is listen to what Head Coach Anthony Lynn said about the cornerback as he raved about his performance during the team’s offseason program.
"I have to tell you, Trevor looks outstanding,” Lynn said. “His confidence is back. He's playing like it in practice. His change-of-direction is night and day.”
Lynn is far from alone in that assessment.
Count Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley as another impressed by Williams’ performance this spring. Having seen first hand what he’s capable of when fully healthy, Bradley is eager to see how he performs come training camp.
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“I think health is the big part of it,” he said. “We're starting to see him — I think we saw him in Phase II move around. We were cautiously optimistic. Then, we saw him in practice and we're seeing that same speed that he had. It's a great sign for him. If a guy works hard like that and you're seeing him progress, to give him a chance with the ones, I think is important. He's earned that opportunity. It'll be a great, competitive situation come training camp.”
Williams wholeheartedly agrees with that assessment, stressing how valuable it is to believe in your body once again. Plus, if there’s any position that thrives on confidence and swag, it’s cornerback.
“My confidence is back,” he explained in early June. “Like I said, when I’m healthy I feel like I can max out my abilities and do what I need to do to help the guys be successful. I’m just happy to be back, happy to be flying around and just making plays.”
Still, as Bradley mentioned, there will be a “great, competitive” battle for the starting cornerback spot opposite Hayward. In addition to Williams, Michael Davis will look to lock up the spot after holding it down over the final few months of the year. The former undrafted free agent always had the raw tools to play the position, and it started to come together as the year went on. Meanwhile, another undrafted free agent who continues to impress is Brandon Facyson. A tall, lengthy cornerback out of Virginia Tech, Facyson has the natural skillset teams covet at the position.