Williams trying to remain in safety mix

One of the bigger surprises as camp opened was Tim Lewis' openness in naming Gibril Wilson and Brent Alexander the starting safeties and lumping former starter and number one pick Shaun Williams in with a bunch of other reserves.

Williams, who took a significant paycut this offseason in order to stay with the club, says he still thinks of himself as starting caliber.

"Going through spring practices it was clear I was going to have to fight for my job," Williams said. "It's not a surprise. But it is a different situation. In previous years I've been a starter and there have been no questions. This is different. But I'm ready for the challenge."

Williams, who started 58 consecutive games before an injury in 2003, is having a tough time digesting his situation.

"A year ago, the day before I got hurt, I would have never thought this would have happened," he said. "It is what it is. I can understand where they're coming from – they're trying to win football games. I'm coming off two knee injuries. They have to make the decision. I'm just here to play. I'll do my best. I can't focus on what's being said, or what's not being said, what opportunities I have or what I'm close to or what I'm not close to. I have to prepare as best I can."

The confident Williams thinks he has a chance to regain his starting job before the Sept. 11 opener against Arizona.

"Obviously, it's not my decision," he said. "I can only control what I can do. I try to stay focused on staying healthy, performing at a top level and getting even better than I was before. We'll have practices and preseason games, and hopefully I can perform well enough to be the starter."

Asked if he is capable of again being the player he was before suffering two serious knee injuries, Williams said, "Absolutely. I don't have a question in my mind."

* * *

Barrett Green, who's practicing once a day early in camp, said his goal is to be back in time for the club's final two preseason games. Green, who played through and finally succumbed to a serious knee injury last year, had offseason surgery, but said he's on the right track. The Giants think very highly of T.J. Hollowell, and have him backing up Green, with Nick Greisen playing behind Antonio Pierce in the middle. On the strong side, a healthy Carlos Emmons will start and is backed up by the very athletic Reggie Torbor.

While Greisen was moved back to the middle after filling in very well on the weak side for Green last year, several coaches confirmed that Greisen would still be the first linebacker off the bench.

* * *

There's Tiki Barber and then there's everybody else. However, some of Barber's backups have shown themselves well in the early going. Coughlin has already commented on the reserve group that includes Mike Cloud, Derrick Ward and rookie Brandon Jacobs, giving the Giants better depth than they've had in recent seasons.

"I feel pretty good about that," Coughlin said. "They've all got to be able to work and stay out here. That's the key. We've got six guys at the running back position. We've allowed everybody to get different reps. Derrick is somewhat limited and right now he's only working one practice a day (because of the arthroscopic knee surgery he had in the spring). Mike Cloud had a real good practice (Sunday) morning. As I said last year, the best he looks is when he's got the ball in his hands or he's right there at the line of scrimmage or faking or whatever. He did well with that. I'm hoping Brandon (Jacobs) will continue to get better. (Ryan) Grant got a couple of shots. I'm hoping those kids will all balance out and we'll have good depth and make some real interesting decisions."

The Giants Beat Top Stories