All throughout his college career, Greedy Williams played in front of crowds bigger than Sunday’s at FirstEnergy Stadium. A lot of times, they were cheering against him, too.
In a sense, the experience mattered. Williams hasn’t shied away from the spotlight ever since Cleveland nabbed him in the second round of the 2019 draft. There was just no preparing him for what he faced in his NFL debut, one that was made even sweeter by the starting nod and lengthy playing time he received.
“Anytime you’re graduating to the next level and it’s your first game, you’re nervous and playing not to mess up,” Williams admitted Monday.
“It was just getting my feet wet. Just trying to do everything right and be perfect. At the end of the day, just out there playing football.”
Check out photos from today's practice by team photographer Matt Starkey
It wasn’t the Browns’ best day of football, but Williams held his own as the only rookie to see the field on offense or defense. He logged 40 of a possible 61 snaps on a day the Browns surrendered just four completions to wide receivers.
He drew solid reviews from his coach and teammates after playing the majority of snaps in a rotation with last year’s starter, Terrance Mitchell.
“I thought Greedy played pretty good,” Kitchens said. “He had a penalty on special teams as a gunner, but overall, I thought Greedy challenged the wide receivers and competed every play. I thought he did well.”
Williams, the former LSU star, didn’t hold a regular, first-team spot during training camp but he received his fair share of starting reps while Denzel Ward missed a handful of practices and preseason games with an injury. That allowed Williams, who had an interception in Cleveland’s preseason opener, to share the field with Mitchell even though they were ultimately competing for the same spot.
Williams’ performance over the last two weeks of the preseason was cited as the reason why he earned the start over Mitchell, who was similarly commended throughout training camp for his performance. Mitchell still saw the field for 18 snaps Sunday, and the Browns are expected to continue to rotate the two while Ward receives almost every snap on the other side.
Williams first learned he was in position to start Monday of Titans week. There won’t need to be the same kind of notice this week as Williams prepares for his first NFL road game against the Jets on Monday Night Football.
“I just stayed forward,” Williams said. “I never let anything get me down. I just practiced hard every day and competed every day. Come after the preseason and before practice, I get this notice that I would probably in the starting role. Like I said, just trusting what I do and great things come.”