EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J - The New York Jets may have lost Antonio Cromartie with a second quarter non-contact injury but they seem to have a more than capable replacement in Marcus Williams. However, that's something known around these parts for a long time.
An undrafted rookie free agent out of North Dakota State, Williams was signed last year after being cut from the Houston Texans, one of the few good signings by fired general manager John Idzik. Last year, Williams had an interception, seven tackles and three passes defended in a 17-16 home loss to the New England Patriots in Week 16, all part of a second half of the season where he put together solid displays.
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With 10:42 left in the third quarter, Williams stepped up and had an interception that set the Jets to go up 21-10. It was an instinctual play from Williams.
"It was third-and-8 and I was backside. It was 'Cover 1' and you know you're hot. Pretty much knew he was going to stop at the sticks," Williams said.
"I didn't know. Once he took the outside release, I knew he could either run a stop at the sticks or keep going for a fade. Seeing that he stops, I turned around and tried to make a play."
Now with Cromartie out potentially long-term following that injury, it could be Williams who is again in a position to step into a prominent role.
Williams calls Cromartie a teammate "but also a friend." While Cromartie has taken on a mentorship role in his return to the Jets after a year away with the Arizona Cardinals, the veteran had a difficult preseason and was struggling throughout training camp. Now with this injury, Williams likely went from a contributor to someone who will be opposite Darrelle Revis next week when the Jets play the Indianapolis Colts.
His experience last year with eight starts and 36 tackles will help as he attempts to replace Cromartie, a Pro Bowl cornerback last year.
"Because I knew I've been here before, that's the main thing. Last year someone got hurt, I think it was Darrin Walls and it was time for me to come here and step up," Williams said.
"Like I said I always prepare myself as if I'm going to be a starter. I prepared myself well this week and went out there and performed."
Williams finished the game with that third quarter interception as well three tackles and three passes defended, tied for a career high.