EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Leonard Williams will have no trouble fitting it.
The Giants’ new defensive lineman, obtained yesterday in a trade with the Jets, met his new teammates on and off the field today. He felt a positive vibe in and out of uniform and said he will be ready to contribute when the Giants host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
“Day one was good,” Williams said after his first Giants practice. “I feel like the D-line and the team brought me in with welcoming arms, everyone introduced themselves, I introduced myself as well. It’s a pretty open locker room, everybody is pretty nice and cool with each other. Practice was pretty good. We don’t play until Monday, so it was a little lighter tempo today.
“I think it’s going to give me a little bit more chance to look over my playbook, know my teammates a little better. It’s good to come into a new locker room with a little bit of extra days to prepare and get to know my new defense and my new teammates.”
Williams said his transition to James Bettcher’s defense should be just as efficient, because it is comparable to the system he played in during his first four seasons with the Jets under Todd Bowles.
“It’s actually pretty similar,” Williams said. “Even some of the terminology and verbiage is pretty similar, so I think it should be a little bit easier to pick it up, a little bit easier of a transition since I’ve actually played in the defense for a little bit. I still have some of the younger guys on the D-line helping me out with some of the calls when I don’t know them. Like I said, they’ve been doing a good job of inviting me in and showing me the way.”
Asked what he wants to prove to his new teammates and fan base, Williams said, “Just that I’m a good team player. I’m a good player on the field, I’m a good guy off the field. I’m just someone who is going to give it my all in the classroom, on the field, as a leader, as a teammate and everything like that.”
Coach Pat Shurmur said Williams should get up to speed “very quickly. A day like today is a good thing because we have an extra practice day, and so we can get him up and running and get him ready to go for Monday.”
Shurmur is “very excited” to add Williams -- the sixth overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft -- to a front that includes young linemen Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill and rookie Dexter Lawrence.
“We’ve added an outstanding player to our defensive line,” Shurmur plays. “I’ve been very impressed by how hard he plays. I think he has an impact on the game in the run and the pass game. By all accounts, he’s a great guy and a great teammate. Everything I’ve seen to this point, we’re really thrilled that he’s with us.
“He’s played on the center, he’s played on the guard, he’s played on the tackle, he’s played on the tight end. He’s multiple from that standpoint. He has great length, he plays extremely hard, he uses his hands well. Again, because he’s been in kind of a five on the line system in the past, it’ll help him get up to speed quicker.”
The Giants’ defense is 28th in the NFL in yards allowed (386.8 a game) and 22nd vs. the run (122.4), so the talented 6-5, 302-pound Williams, a 2016 Pro Bowler, can only help.
“I think he will fit in nicely with us,” said inside linebacker and defensive captain Alec Ogletree. “Obviously, he is a talented player and we just hope he comes in and helps us win games. Obviously, you can see he is a big guy and he has production in the league, and that’s what you want.”
The Giants sent the Jets a 2020 third-round draft choice and a 2021 fifth-round selection that could become a fourth to obtain Williams.
“It adds more talent to our group and hopefully it adds more production to us winning games,” Ogletree said. “The main reason people make moves is to win games and we want to win games. They obviously felt he was a much-needed piece to help us win games.”
Lawrence, a first-round draft choice this year, met Williams today, but was already very familiar with him.
“I watched him when I was growing up in high school and things like that,” Lawrence said. “I like the way he just attacks the line, he gets off the ball and he’s disruptive. That’s kind of what you want from a defensive lineman. Today, he had a high motor running to the ball.”
Being traded to the Giants enabled Williams to remain an in-season resident of New Jersey. But everything else will require an adjustment.
“It was still an emotional day,” he said. “It was a long day, a lot going on through my mind. But at the same time, I’m privileged and grateful for the Giants for giving me the chance to come play here. It’s been an easier transition since I’m close by. It’s not like I had to pack a bag and get on a flight and go somewhere and have to worry about who’s going to watch my dogs, who’s going to do this and who’s going to do that. I basically just came right down the street to my neighbors. I still have a lot to prove, like I said, to this team and to my new teammates.”
Photos from Wednesday's practice as on-field preparations began for the Dallas Cowboys
*Wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who has missed the last three games while in the NFL concussion protocol, practiced fully today.
“He’s still in the protocol, but he’s making good progress,” Shurmur said. “We’ll see what the week brings and see if he’s available for Monday.”
*Cornerback Sam Beal continues to practice and is eligible to be activated off injured reserve.
“He’s making good progress,” Shurmur said. “We have until next Wednesday to make a final decision on him, and so we’ll just see, again, what the next week brings.”
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