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Interview with Aeneas W....

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  • Interview with Aeneas W....

    Q&A with Rams Pro Bowl CB Aeneas Williams

    By B. Peterson
    NFL Insider

    PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 9, 2001) After 10 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (six of which ended with trips to the Pro Bowl), cornerback Aeneas Williams was traded to the St. Louis Rams the day of the 2001 NFL Draft. A proven leader and one of the league's best defenders in man-for-man coverage, Williams was the most prominent acquisition in the Rams' massive overhaul of last season's defense.

    It didn't take long for St. Louis to reap the benefits of having Williams in its secondary. In the Rams' 20-17 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Kickoff Weekend, the crafty veteran made four tackles, broke up one pass, and most importantly, recovered a fumble by rookie teammate Adam Archuleta after Archuleta had recovered a fumble by Eagles tight end Chad Lewis. On the ensuing drive, the Rams scored a touchdown to take a 14-3 lead at halftime.

    Williams sat down with NFL Insider to discuss his new team.

    Q: What are the biggest differences between playing in Arizona and St. Louis?
    A: First I'd have to say the expectations. Here we believe we can win. We believe we are going to win a lot of games. We believe we have what it takes to get to New Orleans. We knew coming to Philadelphia that this was going to be a hostile environment and that we would be facing a very good team. But we found a way to win. The difference from where I was before is that we didn't get the victories like this one. We got this in overtime and it was a great victory.

    Q: How would you grade the Rams' defensive performance?
    A: In the first half, I'd give us an "A." In the second half, we needed to find a way to continue to get turnovers when we had the lead. We didn't contain (Donovan) McNabb real well, and he was able to make some big plays. So I'd have to give us a "C+" in the second half.

    Q: Did the defense get a little winded in the second half?
    A: We probably did. Our offense was on the field a majority of the time in the first half which gave us some breathing room. And when we allowed them to convert some fourth downs in the second half, that just kept us on the field longer than we should have been.

    Q: You did a great job of containing McNabb for three quarters. Why was he able to finally break free?
    A: He did a great job and was resilient. He never gave up. He did what we thought he was capable of doing, and I agree that we did a great job of containing him for most of the game. In the second half we have to buckle down and concentrate on stopping teams from what they do best. And McNabb buying time with his legs is what the Eagles do best on offense.

    Q: Describe your leadership role on the Rams' defense?
    A: When I got here, I had no idea the amount of respect that the players and coaches had for me. I've just gone out and worked hard. I think leaders are born out of circumstances and in games like this, we need people to step up. I think I was able to help the team today make plays when we needed to.

    Q: You were encouraging players in the defensive huddle as the Eagles faced fourth-and-goal on your 1-yard line. You made a perfect form tackle on Eagles fullback Cecil Martin after he caught a pass at the goal line and it looked as if your defense had held. Instant replay overturned the initial call and awarded a touchdown to the Eagles. Was Martin in?
    A: I don't know, but they gave it to him so he was in. One thing I thought of as we prepared for that fourth-down play was a recent round-table discussion between Mike Singletary, Ray Lewis, and Mel Blount. They were asked if there was a trademark play that symbolized their great defenses. I thought this could be a trademark play for us this year. That's what went through my mind in the huddle. That this play could help propel us to New Orleans.

    Q: Where can the Rams' secondary get better?
    A: I think we can work on techniques. Some of the plays they made on us today, I think could have been negated by good, proper techniques, driving to the ball, and making solid tackles.

    Q: Has it been difficult to bring together so many new faces on the Rams defense?
    A: It has not. And the reason is the guys we've brought in. We brought in character guys who go all out on every play. We care about each other. There are no individuals on our defense who care only about themselves. We have guys who want to excel, but excel from the team perspective.

    Q: What does the Rams defense do for an encore?
    A: I think teams will be trailing us this season, and we have to find a way as a defense to get stops after we score. We need to make bigger plays in the second half because our offense is going to score points. I don't think we let down today when we got up 17-3, but we need to keep our opponents down. In the end, we made plays when we needed to and hopefully that will set the tone for the season.

    GO DEE!! GO RAMS!!!