WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Whenever veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams decides to hang up his pads, he might have a future in coaching.
Williams, who has been a part of the Saints’ starting defense from the first day of camp, might be almost as valuable in the knowledge he’s passing out to the rest of a young defensive line room.
A five-time All-Pro selection, Williams has dished out his knowledge freely.
“I’m a little extension (of the coaches),” Williams said. “I try to maybe break it down in a way they understand if they didn’t understand the way the coaches told them initially.”
Williams, who lockers next to undrafted free agent Bobby Richardson, has been instrumental in the rookie’s development.
“He’s kind of taken me under his wing,” Richardson said. “Our lockers are right next to each other, so before practice, after practice, we talk about little things I need to work on.”
But it’s not just players like Richardson, fellow undrafted free agent Ashaad Mabry — who initially signed with Oklahoma State out of high school because Williams was his childhood hero — or fifth-round pick Tyeler Davison.
Williams has been an asset for the rest of the Saints starting lineup. A veteran with a solid understanding of what a player’s skill set requires, Williams will pass along little notes on everything from technique to reading an offensive lineman to the best way to take care of the body going forward.
Nose tackle John Jenkins dropped more than 35 pounds in the offseason in part due to Williams’ advice.
“Am I picking his brain?” defensive end Akiem Hicks said early on in camp. “Absolutely.”
The presence of Williams may be playing a key role on a defensive line that has become one of the most competitive units on the team.
Every undrafted defensive lineman — Richardson, Mabry, Tavaris Barnes and Kaleb Eulls — has had his moments, making the race for the final 53 tighter than ever.
“I couldn’t believe we had that many undrafted free agents in the room,” Williams said. “They’re all making strides. You can tell, from OTAs to now, just how many strides they’ve made.”