One of the mild surprises of camp so far has been Jacquian Williams.
The surprise isn't necessarily because of his play -- yet -- but rather because Williams has been working primarily with the second-team linebackers.
One of the more athletic and perhaps the speediest linebacker on the Giants roster, Williams entered camp with expectations that he would start this season and be a prime candidate to be one of the team's few three-down linebackers if he can stay healthy.
New York Giants
The coaches have told the players that every linebacker spot is up for grabs. It appears that Williams will have to prove to the coaches that he can be durable and beat out outside linebackers Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers. Both have been working with the first team alongside middle linebacker Mark Herzlich.
"It's not disappointing," Williams said of being on the second team at the moment. "It's just this time, continue to keep pushing forward, my opportunity will come. ... I have my time to prove myself."
What Williams wants to show the coaches is that he can be an every-down linebacker for the Giants. Perry Fewell likes to play a safety or an extra defensive back in nickel situations alongside a linebacker like he did with Deon Grant as the third safety. In the past, Michael Boley was a linebacker who played on third downs. Williams saw third-down action as well due to his speed. He wants to prove that he is more than a situational linebacker.
"Ray Lewis said that 'What team takes out the General?'" Williams said. "My goal is to be the guy that we can count on, the guy that you never take him out. I don't want to come out. I want to be the guy they need, the guy they call on, the guy they can trust. With respect to all the other linebackers, I'll do whatever I have to do to be that guy."
Williams was limited in the offseason workouts as he took it easy with a PCL injury that slowed him down and forced him out of six games last year. He said he did not have any medical procedures on his knee this offseason.
"I'm good," Williams said of his knee. "I worked hard this offseason, been a long way coming back from the injury and stuff. It definitely humbled me. It was a humbling experience to watch guys out there play and work hard."
Paysinger, Herzlich and Williams are all entering their third season in the league. The Giants clearly want to see if they are ready for bigger roles with the departures of Boley and Chase Blackburn and Mathias Kiwanuka moving to defensive end.
"We know Chase was the commander of the defense," Paysinger said. "He was able to create calmness in chaos. Whether the offense was doing switches, changes, motions, he was the man to look to, to get the right call. Boley was the more athletic one, and we just know since they’re gone we have to pick up the slack."
"[The coaches] told us nothing is set in stone," Paysinger added about the linebacker competition. "They say that when it comes to the depth chart, it can change any day."
Williams has seen some snaps with the first team in red zone drills. During one practice earlier this week, he knocked down two passes, putting on display his athleticism in coverage.
If Williams keeps that up, he might move up the depth chart soon to where many expected him to be at the start of camp.
"It's my third year. They expect more from me," Williams said. "I expect more from myself. My team needs me, and I'll be a good part of this team no matter where I'm at."