Joejuan Williams Bringing ‘Play Anywhere’ Attitude To Patriots’ Secondary

Joejuan Williams is prepared to play multiple roles for the Patriots defense

by Zack Cox

September 1, 2020

Joejuan Williams is listed on New England’s roster as a cornerback. But he believes he can be so much more for the Patriots.

Williams, a 2019 second-round pick who played sparingly as a rookie, is meeting exclusively with Patriots safeties this summer, according to a report from NFL Media’s Mike Giardi, and looks poised to play multiple defensive roles as an NFL sophomore.

“For me, it?s really just being versatile,” Williams said after Tuesday’s practice. “Just showing the team. Coming into the draft, pretty much, that?s what I said I wanted to accomplish, just showing my value to the team. It helps out lining up at corner, but also knowing what the safeties are doing. Knowing what the ?money? and ?star? is doing. Again, just understanding the whole defense and being able to plug and play anywhere.

“That?s kind of what I felt like I could do. As of right now, I?m trying to just play anywhere. That?s pretty much it.”

It remains unclear exactly how the Patriots will replace starting strong safety Patrick Chung, who opted out of the season, but Williams could take on some of Chung’s responsibilities, such as covering tight ends. At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, Williams is far larger than your average corner and has the size needed to cover bigger, stronger pass-catchers.

Williams played 80 defensive snaps for New England last season, primarily as a perimeter cornerback.

“Of course, younger days, youth football and stuff like that, I played a little bit (of safety),” Williams said. “I played a little bit when I was in high school, my junior year, when our safety broke our leg. But from there, pretty much was at corner.

“But again, coming into (the NFL), I prided myself on ?I?m not just a corner. I?m not a safety. I?m a defensive back.’ I feel like I can be plugged and played anywhere. It?s just getting the scheme down, getting the philosophy, and making sure I know what my role is to the team at that moment.”

With New England needing to replace both Chung (642 defensive snaps last season) and third safety Duron Harmon (657), Williams, top draft pick Kyle Dugger and veteran safeties Terrence Brooks and Adrian Phillips all could see significant playing time, though Phillips must first shake the injury that’s limited him since early in training camp. Cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and D’Angelo Ross also can play safety.

Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images
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