Williams set to make comeback with Bengals

Roy Williams speaks at a press conference at Paul Brown stadium.  Williams recently signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. (Al Behrman / Associated Press)

Roy Williams speaks at a press conference at Paul Brown Stadium. Williams recently signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. (Al Behrman / Associated Press)

The best story in all of sports is the athlete who rises to stardom, then falls, only to rise again.

When the Bengals signed five-time Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams last week, he received his chance for redemption and the opportunity to once again become a dominate NFL defender.

“When we talked, I wanted to know if he wanted to be the Roy of the past,” said Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who coached Williams during his first five seasons with the Cowboys. “I believe he can be like Rocky.

“When he first came in to play for us in Dallas, I was amazed how he could cover the slot wide receiver. Then, as we moved to the 3-4 defense, we began to play less eight-man fronts and more two-deep zones, which forced Roy to play more coverage.”

Williams spent most of his five Pro Bowl seasons in Dallas playing close to the line of scrimmage in a 4-3 defense, the same primary alignment now used by Zimmer in Cincinnati.

“He has always been an enforcer who can knock the ball loose,” Zimmer said of Williams. “We now would like to play him at free safety to the one receiver side because when he has depth, he knocks runners backwards and makes wide receivers look before catching the ball.”

Cincinnati hasn’t fielded a lethal defender in its secondary since All-Pro strong safety David Fulcher was on the roster. Williams’ reputation for horse-collar tackles and physical play might be the one thing the Bengals need to give their defense some real teeth.

Baltimore has Ed Reed. Pittsburgh has Troy Polamalu and now Cincinnati has Roy Williams. Defense defines the AFC North, and Williams has been given an invitation to join the party. He earned a one-way ticket to become the centerpiece of a defense badly in need of a physical identity. If Roy can pull it off, he will have completed his resurrection and written one of the best comeback stories in recent memory.

– Solomon Wilcots

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