The biggest positional battle that will ensue over the next two weeks for the Bengals is the starting strong safety spot. George Iloka was ruled out last night with a wrist injury after being named the starting safety opposite Reggie Nelson. In his place was Taylor Mays getting the start, but it was the rookie out of Georgia who stole the show, and may have taken a big step in earning the starting SS role.
Shawn Williams played early in often last night, playing 71 percent of the defensive snaps (53), and led the defense with ten tackles while displaying the physical prowess that helped him become one of the best tackling defensive backs in college football last year. This, despite entering last night as the third-string SS, and not having done enough to beat-out Iloka and Mays for more playing time to this point.
Williams made 30 starts at strong safety while playing at Georgia, and racked up 208 tackles. Playing and starting in the SEC, it’s easy to see how he’s used to racking up stops vs. NFL-caliber players.
Williams is a physical in-the-box safety with an overall muscular build that helps him fit into Mike Zimmer’s defense well, as he likes to line up his SS close to the line-of-scrimmage more than your typical SS, almost making him an extra linebacker at times.