It wasn’t an easy spot. Rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams, who had impressed when put into games, got his number called when veteran Michael Boley -- the signal-caller in that part of the field -- was still ailing with a hamstring injury.
On Dec. 4, the rookie stepped up to cover Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley -- but gave up a play in the fourth quarter which led to the winning field goal. He could be in the same spot on Sunday when the Giants face the Packers in a divisional playoff game, but Justin Tuck said he and the Giants have complete trust in Williams.
“I think the first word that comes to mind is just athleticism. He’s a very athletic individual,” Tuck said. “For him to be thrown in the mix when he was and pick up our defense, we feel confident in putting him on the football field in any situation that he’s going to know what to do and do it very fast. So it’s been a breath of fresh air for him to be on the football field with us. You can match that guy up with wide receivers, you can match him up with tight ends, the receiving tight ends and you don’t really lose much. He’s like a bigger safety on the football field in certain situations.”
Against Dallas in the last game of the season, Williams had a sack and eight combined tackles. He added four more tackles in the first playoff win over the Falcons, after posting 78 tackles in his first NFL regular season.
Boley has been impressed with him from the first day he got a look at Williams, fresh out of South Florida, with a throwback haircut Tuck generously called, “a work in progress.”
“He is a different cat than me,” Boley said. “He has it all. To actually sit out there and watch him for the first day that the rookies got here and his ability and the way he goes from sideline to sideline, it is tough to mimic that at the linebacker position.”
Williams said he learned a lot from that Green Bay game and the high-profile matchup, even the play that hurt his team.
“My readiness, my confidence, my cover skills, my assets in the game, that picked up,” Williams said. “My aggressiveness, that’s the way I play. That’s how I got here so I’m going to keep that.”
Eventually, the rookie would like to his career to turn out the way that Boley's has, as a communicator on defense. He likes the responsibility, but realizes that it will take time before he is ready to be considered for the job.
“I definitely see myself being that guy,” Williams said. “There are some great guys in front of me and it may take a couple years but in general, that’s the type of guy I would like to be.”