GLENDALE, Ariz. — Teddy Williams signed with the Arizona Cardinals last October as a wide receiver who had the kind of speed that could help take the top off of a defense.
He caught one pass for 51 yards against the Atlanta Falcons, and it probably would have gone for a touchdown had it not been slightly under-thrown.
Unfortunately for Williams, a couple games later he would tear his left Achilles tendon and be lost for the season.
Now, when he takes the field again, it will be at a different position: cornerback.
“The transition is one thing, but it’s also coming off a pretty severe injury, too. It makes a difference,” Williams said of where he’s at early in training camp. “So (I’m) just trying to get my feet back under me, get my legs under me and work on my techniques.”
The defensive side of the ball is not exactly a foreign concept for Williams. A track star at the University of Texas San Antonio, he was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as a defensive back in 2011, and also played that position for the Colts in 2012.
If he’s going to make it in the NFL, it looks like it will be as a defender.
“I know my role right now is to be the guy that I need to be on special teams, but as far as being a main position guy, I’ll do either one. But I like playing defense a lot more,” he said.
At 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds, he has good size for the position, and everyone knows about the speed that led him becoming UTSA’s only four-time All-America selection while establishing school records in the 55 meters, 60 meters, 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters relay. In fact, his time of 9.90 seconds in the 100 meter during his junior season was the fastest in the world.
That speed makes is what makes him valuable on special teams and may be what keeps him on a roster as he continues to grow as a corner.
“I’ve seen Teddy play corner because he was a corner in Indy. It’s more of his natural position,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “He’ll make the team on special teams, which is his forte, and continue to improve as a press corner because he’s got that length and the speed to be a good press corner, a man-to-man corner.”
If Williams can continue to be a weapon on special teams, the Cardinals’ depth at cornerback would allow them to bring him along slowly. It helps that he has the chance to match up with a very talented group of receivers.
“It’s a great challenge and I look forward to those challenges,” he said. “I hold myself to a higher standard as an individual, and I just want to challenge myself every day.”
Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt to have veterans like Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers and Antonio Cromartie around to show him the ropes. Williams said they’ve been very helpful in helping with his technique, which is where he has the most room to improve.
“Mainly working on my techniques and work on being patient when I’m in my press, because that’s when I’m most comfortable — is pressing,” he said. “So just work the patience and just the little things. And work on my feet.”