With an Incredible Hulk shirt sticking out from under the bottom of his jersey, Brandon Williams manned his customary spot along the interior of the defensive line at the Ravens’ practice Wednesday and, suddenly, all seemed right again with the team’s beleaguered run defense. Williams’ absence for the past four games because of a toe/foot injury has coincided with near-unprecedented struggles for the Ravens’ run defense under coach John Harbaugh. What has long been the foundation of a proud defense has crumbled in recent weeks as the Ravens (3-3) enter Sunday’s matchup with the Minnesota Vikings (4-2) at U.S. Bank Stadium with the league’s 30th-ranked run defense. That’s why the mere presence of Williams and defensive lineman Carl Davis, who also didn’t play in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Chicago Bears, on the practice field seemed to lift the spirit of several of the Ravens’ defensive players who have grown tired of teams gouging them with persistent running attacks. “We’ve got our $50 million man coming back,” Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said before Wednesday’s practice. Williams, who was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice after returning to the field on a limited basis late last week, downplayed the significance of his return. “I’m just a guy. I’m just a guy who is working to get back on the field. That’s all I’m doing,” he said. “Today felt good. I have two more days to go. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon. We’ll just take it day by day, play by play and just see how it goes. I’m just trying to worry about practices and make sure I have all my bearings back.” The Ravens’ decision to give Williams a five-year, $52.5 million deal in March raised some eyebrows around the league because the big defensive tackle is primarily a run stuffer in a pass-happy league. However, what’s transpired over the season’s first six weeks has seemingly justified the move.
Ravens hope return of Brandon Williams helps end rut against the run
Baltimore Sun | Oct 19