Leonard Williams of the Giants is already tearing up in camp

Leonard Williams is unsure who ripped the gaping hole in the middle of his training shirt at the end of the first day of training camp.

The Giants defensive lineman looked like he had run through a chipper or an animal had mauled the front of his jersey to get to his sturdy chest. But Williams took advantage of it and saw it as a positive side effect of healthy competition. And, of course, he received a new training shirt ahead of Day 2.

“Competition is the culprit,” Williams joked after the second day of training camp Thursday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

« I mean it was kind of funny, like me and the D-line laughed it off. Some of my old friends from college and the fans had a good laugh about it and stuff like that. You know, I was joking around the offensive line like, ‘Yeah, you have to do all that to stop me.’ But you know, it’s friendly competition, and that kind of stuff happens when you go full speed.

Leonard Williams shows off his ripped jersey during Giants training camp.
Corey Sipkins

Williams is entering his third full season with the Giants after the Jets traded the 28-year-old to rivals Crosstown in October 2019 in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick. Like everyone else, Williams is aiming for a rebounding season under new management — head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen — and a new defensive system might be just what he needs.

Despite recording a career-high 81 tackles last season, Williams has gone from 11.5 sacks in 2020 to just 6.5 in 2021. His tackles for a loss have dropped from 14 to five, and his shots quarterback safes fell 30-14. Still, the Giants placed the franchise tag on Williams for the second straight season before signing him to a three-year, $63 million deal, which includes $45 million guaranteed dollars and a $22.5 million signing bonus last March.

« Well, it’s nice to get to know him as a person, » Daboll said before the Giants took to the field Thursday. « First, I thought he was a very good player. [He’s] has good length, causes problems inside, has power, has speed, athletic, drafted high for a reason. Really, it’s just getting to know the person, and what a great person he is. Cares about his teammates. Smart soccer player. So he’s a good guy to work with.

The losses of defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson in free agency and linebacker Blake Martinez to an ACL injury certainly played a role in William’s performance last season. Martinez is back now, and rookie pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux is on the scene. Along with Williams, defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Justin Ellis are also projected starters.

Williams sounds like he’s high on new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who has led the Ravens’ defense to a top-three NFL ranking in points in three of his four seasons.

« Wink is a great coach, » Williams said. « I feel like this defense is doing a great job of coming together and being a unified defence, and I feel like that’s the most important thing with a defense with so many moving parts. »


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