New Saints DT Kevin Williams shows he's 'still got something in the tank'

Kevin Williams will add depth and experience to a young defensive line. AP Photo/John Froschauer

METAIRIE, La. -- Kevin Williams flew in to New Orleans on Sunday night, took his physical on Monday and lined up with the starting defense in practice on Tuesday.

Although it took the six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle a while to sign with a new team this summer, he wasted little time getting acclimated.

At one point, the 6-foot-5, 311-pounder chased down quarterback Drew Brees and might have had a sack if live contract was allowed during minicamp.

"Yeah man, I can play football. That's something I can do. I know how to do that,"said Williams, 34, who spent his first 11 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before joining the Seattle Seahawks last year and the New Orleans Saints last week.

"Learning kind of where to go [in a new defense], that's kind of the only thing. But once I get that and get my hand on the ground, I know how to attack the guy and play some football."

Getting to know his new teammates in new locker rooms over the last two years has been a bit humbling, though -- in more ways than one.

"Man, you'd be surprised the stories I've gotten. They made me feel old, like, ‘We used to play with you on Madden,' and all these things," Williams said. "So I really didn't have to do much introducing. The guys already knew who I was."

Williams, who has 63 career sacks, admitted he probably "can't do 60 snaps at maximum effort"at this stage of his career. But he said he should still play 40-45 snaps at a high level -- pointing to the role he played in Seattle last year.

Williams moved over from his natural position of 3-technique to nose tackle when starter Brandon Mebane went down with an injury, and he started the final 10 games during the Seahawks' run to the Super Bowl.

"I think I stepped in and we probably didn't miss a beat,"Williams said. "Maybe [I'm not playing] as high a level as I was five or six years ago, but I think I still got something in the tank to give and to make a team better."

Still, Williams had to wait to find a new home this summer.

He said he got some calls, "but no real interest like it was from the Saints,"who first brought him in for a visit more than a month ago.

Williams will bring some experienced depth to a defensive line that doesn't have much behind ends Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks and tackles Brodrick Bunkley and John Jenkins.

Williams lined up as the 3-technique Tuesday while the Saints were playing in a four-man front. But the Saints mix and match a lot between three-man and four-man fronts, so coach Sean Payton said it remains to be seen exactly how Williams will be used in various packages.

Williams was with the starting defense Tuesday because Hicks and Bunkley are both nursing injuries (a league source last week said that Hicks' injury is nothing major). Payton stressed, however, that Williams wasn't brought in because of injuries and that the Saints had been specifically targeting him for a while.

"It was more or less just reaching an agreement with him and getting him in here,"said Payton, who said he thought Williams played well for the Seahawks last year. "I think he provides real good leadership, and he was part of a real good defense."

When asked what took so long to finally sign the deal in New Orleans, Williams cracked, "I was waiting for minicamp" and joked that you don't always want to choose "the first pretty girl that says hello."

Williams was full of comic gems during his interview Tuesday. When someone pointed out he's just a couple hours away from former teammate Brett Favre's home in southern Mississippi and that he could drop in for a surprise visit, Williams said, "I need to call him up. I don't want to surprise him. He might have shotguns and dogs."

On a more serious note, Williams said he liked the fit in New Orleans because it's close to where he has family in Arkansas -- and because he sees the Saints as a championship contender, which is important for him at this stage of his career.

"At the end of the day, you want to have a chance to have chance,"Williams said. "You play pretty good defense and you have a good quarterback, those are always two good things that give you a chance to win in this league. And they definitely have a good quarterback.

"Made some improvements on defense, and we're going to give it a shot."