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Cary Williams sure got off to a rocky start with Eagles fans.
One of Williams’ former teammates and closest friends thinks things will get a lot better once Philly sees him play football.
“I think he fits the Philadelphia vibe,” Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith said at LeSean McCoy’s charity softball game in Lancaster on Saturday night. “Some very passionate fans, and he’s a very passionate guy.
“He’s emotional, and he plays with his heart on his sleeve all the time, and he’s a competitor, and he’s a guy that can spark the defense over there. I think he can definitely grow into a great leader for them.”
Williams began his career with the Titans in 2008 but spent the last 3½ years with the Ravens, starting all 32 games the last two seasons at cornerback.
Williams had two interceptions during the Ravens’ postseason run to their second Super Bowl title, then signed a three-year, $17 million contract with the Eagles on March 15.
But he didn’t make a great first impression. After skipping a couple OTA practices –- technically voluntary but certainly important for a new player on a team with a new coach –- Williams said it was more important for him to attend his 3-year-old daughter’s dance recital in Nashville and oversee work at his new home than to attend the workouts.
“I’m not doing anything negative,” he said later, explaining his absence. “I’m just trying to be a great dad, I’m just trying to be a great family man, I’m just trying to live my life outside of football and not be confined to just a box. ...
“I don’t want to sound disrespect[ful], I love my job. I just have to make sure my sconces, my wood was picked out, my fireplace.”
Smith laughed when asked on Saturday what kind of teammate Williams is.
“You’ve all been killing my boy up there, man,” he said. “I’ve been seeing the stuff in the media, it’s pretty funny.”
But he grew serious talking about the Cary Williams he got to know with the Ravens the last two years.
“Cary’s a great teammate, man,” he said. “Cary’s a great guy. If you can’t tell, he’s very emotional, very passionate. Great family guy, and I think that they have a great football player on their hands.
“He’s a playmaker. Think he’s had the opportunity to have a few more picks that just didn’t go his way, but in terms of a guy that’s physical and wants to win, very passionate, he’s a great guy for Philadelphia.
“We’re going to miss him in Baltimore, and you guys should enjoy him up here.
“It might not be the best start in terms of the fans, but he’s passionate about it. What he said, to me, he basically said what a lot of people think, but there’s probably a better way to get it across.
“But he’s not the only guy who had to miss an OTA for whatever reason. Some of our best leaders didn’t show up until mandatory minicamp. ... I don’t think he should be judged based off that. Wait till some plays happen and then judge him.”
Smith’s trademark during his years at Maryland and with the Ravens was his long, flowing dreadlocks, but when he showed up at Lancaster’s Clipper Magazine Stadium Saturday afternoon for the LeSean McCoy Foundation fundraiser for ALS, the hair was gone.
Virtually all of it.
Smith literally looks like a different person.
“Been a while,” he said. “Haven’t had a haircut since January of my senior year of high school . It was like six years or so, just time for a change.
“There was nothing that really sparked it, I don’t have any cool story or anything, I just got up and was like, ‘I think I’m going to cut my hair today.’
“My fiance was like, ‘No you’re not,’ and I was, ‘All right, are you serious? Let’s go.’ So I just went to the barbershop and chopped them off.”
Smith has 15 receptions for 324 yards and three touchdowns in six postseason games for the Ravens. He caught three passes for 98 yards -- including touchdown passes of 32 and 59 yards from Joe Flacco -- in the Ravens’ upset win in Denver in January in the conference semifinals.
Nobody has won back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots in 2003 and 2004 and before that the Broncos in 1997 and 1998.
Smith thinks it’s possible.
“We have the potential to be way better than we were last year,” he said. “A lot of folks say there’s a Super Bowl hangover. I want that feeling again.”