The latest addition to the Giants' roster, cornerback Brian Williams, made his debut at practice on Thursday afternoon. Afterwards, he sounded very happy to be a member of Big Blue.
"This is awesome," Williams said. "Who wouldn’t want to play for the New York Giants? ... It’s a great situation for me."
Williams, 32, has played nine NFL seasons -- starting 99 of 128 career games with the Vikings, Jaguars and Falcons. He has more than 500 career tackles, 19 interceptions and five sacks. He served as Atlanta's third cornerback last season.
But he has also battled knee injuries the past two years. He played in just five games in 2009 before undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right knee. And he suffered a left knee injury in the Falcons' final regular season game in 2010, missing the team's divisional playoff loss to the Packers.
Williams was asked Thursday whether he was surprised the Falcons elected to let him go. "I was a little surprised," Williams said. "But hey, it’s the business. They told my agent they wanted to go younger and develop the young guys. That’s the route they went, so I had to move on."
As for Williams' role with the Giants, he will be providing some much-needed depth at cornerback, since the Giants have lost four -- count 'em, four -- cornerbacks already in this training camp. Starter Terrell Thomas (torn ACL) and reserves Brian Witherspoon (torn ACL) and Bruce Johnson (ruptured Achilles) are all gone for the season. First-round draft pick Prince Amukamara (broken foot) will also miss regular season games.
Williams said he was actually watching the Giants' preseason game against the Bears on Monday night, including the play on which Thomas tore his ACL. "It was a pretty ugly thing to see," Williams said. "You hate to see another player go through that. You don’t wish bad on anybody. But that’s part of the game."
The Giants brought four new cornerbacks in for a workout on Tuesday, including fellow veteran Lito Sheppard. But Williams was the one who ended up getting a job offer.
“He is a veteran who knows how to play,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He has been a good physical blitzer and we are in need of someone who can learn quickly and go from there.”
After Williams' first practice on Thursday, Coughlin was asked to evaluate his performance. "OK. Moving around well. Seemed to pick it up pretty good," Coughlin said. When asked whether Williams will play Saturday night against the Jets, Coughlin said, "Well, I hope to play him -- I wouldn’t say much. But I think he needs to play."
Williams, for his part, sounded very eager to get his NFL career re-ignited. "I’ve been a starter in this league my whole career," Williams said. "I went down with an ACL injury, I kinda battled back from that last year. I would say I’m a very good player in this league. I got numbers to show it. But it’s not about me. I think I can contribute to this team in more than one way, so I’m just ready to get rolling."