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Shawn Williams Glad To Be Back With Vance Joseph

Veteran solidifies safety depth behind Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson

S Shawn Williams signs his contract with the Cardinals.
S Shawn Williams signs his contract with the Cardinals.

Shawn Williams may be new to the Valley, but he already feels at home under Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

The veteran safety -- who officially signed a one-year deal with the team on Wednesday -- has turned to Joseph for advice dating back to their days together with the Bengals, which made the recruiting pitch to get him to Arizona feel more like an old-time chat.

"Vance was one I leaned heavily on after my third year in Cincinnati (in 2015), trying to determine whether I should sign back or not," Williams said. "Some of the things he said then were the exact same things he said when I talked to him before coming here. He has his way of just knowing what to say to me."

Joseph's message resonated, and the Cardinals are hoping the addition of Williams can help solidify a pair of areas. Williams is a former starting safety who has embraced playing special teams, and he should also be a key depth piece on defense.

While Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson are the starters, injuries hit the position hard last season. At one point against the Panthers in Week 4, the lack of depth was apparent, and Williams' four recent years of starting experience is a nice fallback.

"I'll probably be doing a little bit of everything," Williams said. "I pride myself on doing a little bit on special teams. As far as defense, just seeing how coach Joseph can use me. I'm not limited in any areas, so whatever there is he needs me to do, I'm pretty confident I can get whatever it is done."

Williams had 110 tackles and five interceptions in 2018 and then 114 tackles and a pick in 2019. Last year, at age 29, he was relegated to backup status.

"It was very difficult," Williams said. "With all that I'd put into an organization, for things to go the way they went, you just understand it. You don't forget that it's a business, and things happen, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. You just worry about controlling what you can control. I think that I stayed very professional with it and I did what I could do."

Williams has a refreshed outlook with the Cardinals. He's excited to be in the same position group as Baker and believes the team is on an upward trajectory.

Williams has reunited with wide receiver A.J. Green, who he joined at the University of Georgia and then for eight years in Cincinnati. Former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis jokingly reminded Williams of that fact in a recent phone call.

"It seems like you're just following A.J. around,'" Williams said Lewis told him. "I'm like, 'I guess that's the case.' I'm excited to be here, and excited to continue to play with A.J."

While Williams will face off with Green occasionally on the practice field, he will have much more interaction with Joseph. They are both a bit older from their first go-round together with the Bengals in 2014-15, but the conversations and mentality remain the same.

"All V.J. used to say to me was, 'Put your head down and go to work,'" Williams said. "That's all I've done my whole career, just work. He always said that if you do that, everything will work itself out. That's what I'm here to do. Put my head down and work. Earn the respect of my teammates, earn the respect of my coaches, earn the respect of the city and see how far that takes us."

CB Malcolm Butler officially join the Cardinals on a one-year contract.