Did Cary Williams Just Author the New ‘Practice’ Sound Bite?

Did Cary Williams Just Author the New ‘Practice’ Sound Bite?

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams would like everybody to know that we’re talking about practice – not a game, but practice.

One of the franchise’s top free agent additions from this offseason, Williams was not only expected to come to Philly and start in a rebuilding secondary. Signed away from the Baltimore Ravens for three years/ $17 million, he is being counted on to bring a championship-caliber attitude and effort to the club as well.

Yet prior to this week’s mini-camp beginning on Tuesday, Williams had committed much of his time away from organized training activities at the NovaCare Complex. While the programs are completely voluntary in name, the unwritten rules of NFL coaches call for as close to full participation as possible.

There was Williams’ wedding and subsequent honeymoon, although it was tough to begrudge him that. He was also missing while checking in on the construction of his new home, and to have some dental work done. The latter excuses seemed a bit more unusual.

Most recently Williams skipped last week’s OTAs to attend his daughter’s recital, which is when Jeff McLane finally decided to take him to task. The Eagles beat writer for the Inquirer pointed to Chip Kelly’s staff laying the groundwork for their new defensive schemes at these practices, adding Williams’ absences did not put the team first.

That was last Saturday. Williams had the chance to respond to criticisms for the first time following day one of this mandatory camp.

Per reports, Williams also reflected on his own childhood, acknowledging that he grew up in a household without two parents, and that he is proud to be there for his daughter. It’s not the first time he’s admitted family comes before football.

You have to hold a certain amount of respect for that point of view from a father, but he didn’t stop there. When pressed about the feeling of Eagles fans that he should have participated in these practices, Williams seemed to question the very significance of a full NFL offseason schedule.

We’re talking about practice – voluntary practice at that.

First of all, I’m not sure there even was much of an outcry from the fans to begin with on the subject of players missing OTAs. Even if there was, Williams is right to a degree. If he is ready to play at a high level come September, will anybody care or even remember this story?

As a result of missing so many reps, Kelly did bust Williams down to second-string at some recent practices. However, the head coach has reiterated many times that there is no depth chart in any meaningful sense of the term at this stage of the year, as evidenced by his experimenting with varying “first-team” looks.

According to reports, Williams was back running with the starters on Tuesday. That further meshes with his outlook, which essentially boils down to being ready to do the job when the time comes. Via the Inq’s Zach Berman last week:

"It's just one of those things where I missed a couple of weeks, guys have been here, and Coach has given them an opportunity. And that's fine. OTAs are OTAs. When we get the pads on, it's a different thing."

"Once we get the pads on," Williams said, "the cream will rise to the top."

Ideally Williams would attend every OTA, as would every player on the roster, and I tend to agree with McLane that some of these work diversions could have been scheduled so as not to interfere with team activities. But giving a man grief for attending his daughter’s recital? That seems harsh.

At the end of the day, we’re talking about practice.

Penn falls to hot-shooting George Mason

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Penn Athletics

Penn falls to hot-shooting George Mason

PHILADELPHIA -- Jalen Jenkins scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds to help lead George Mason over Penn 79-60 on Saturday.

Jenkins was 9 of 11 from the field and hit all four of his free throws for the Patriots (8-3), who have won seven straight. Marquise Moore added 17 points and led the team with 16 rebounds -- his eighth double-double this season -- along with 10 assists. Otis Livingston II had 13 points.

Jenkins sank two jumpers and a layup and Jaire Grayer hit a 3-pointer as part of a 13-0 run late in the second period that gave the Patriots a 70-55 lead with 3:18 remaining.

George Mason trailed 44-40 early in the second. Livingston and Karmari Newman sank 3-pointers and Moore drained a layup midway that put the Patriots back on top, 55-48, with 10:39 to play.

Matt Howard scored 15 points with seven rebounds for the Quakers (3-5).

La Salle keeps things close, ultimately falls to Georgetown

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USA Today Images

La Salle keeps things close, ultimately falls to Georgetown

MIAMI -- L.J. Peak scored 24 points, Rodney Pryor added 19 and Georgetown closed with a flourish to beat La Salle 93-78 on Saturday in the Hoophall Miami Invitational.

It was tied at 67 with 8:44 left, before the Hoyas finished on a 26-11 run.

Jessie Govan scored 19 points and Jagan Mosely had 14 for the Hoyas (6-4), who won their fourth straight. Georgetown shot 53 percent for the game and 58 percent from 3-point range.

Jordan Price scored 23 points for La Salle (4-4), which got 19 more from B.J. Johnson and 10 from Pookie Powell. The Explorers were outscored 36-22 from the line, getting there 10 fewer times than Georgetown.

It was a homecoming for Hoyas reserve center Trey Mourning, whose father Alonzo Mourning is one of two players -- soon to be three, when Shaquille O'Neal gets added to the list this month -- to have his number retired by the Miami Heat.

The younger Mourning wears No. 33, just like his dad did at Georgetown and for the Heat, and used to work at the arena as a Heat ballboy. He got into the game for the final 23.2 seconds, as the Hoyas ran out the clock.