Marcus Williams was right at home Friday.
Not only was the New Orleans Saints rookie safety back near his hometown of Corona, California, during joint practices with the Los Angeles Chargers, but he also found himself making one of the plays of the day from his signature spot as a deep center fielder.
Williams intercepted Chargers quarterback Cardale Jones in full-team drills. Based on reporters’ observations from practice, Williams showed great anticipation and high-pointed the ball in the air.
That’s exactly the type of play Williams made his reputation on in college at Utah, with five interceptions in each of his final two seasons. And those ball skills are what the Saints pointed to when they snagged the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder with the 42nd pick in the draft.
“I felt pretty comfortable out there,” Williams said after the second day of practices with the Chargers. “I’m not really a nervous type of guy. I just make sure I do my job and do my assignments.
“It’s slowing down a lot. I get a lot of help from my coaches and teammates. ... Training camp has been a process. There’s ups, there’s downs, but you always continue to get better every day. There’s never a day you think you know everything. And each day I try to push myself to a new standard, make sure I’m getting better.”
Williams, who traces his ball skills back to his days as a high school wide receiver in Corona, said after Thursday’s practice that he had an uncle, some close friends and coaches on hand for his return to the L.A. area.
Williams also had a solid performance in his preseason debut against the Cleveland Browns last week. And though he isn’t making a flash play every day on the practice field, he had a couple of them last week, too.
As of now, Williams has been working as the third or fourth safety behind projected starters Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell. But the Saints use a heavy dose of three-safety packages -- and if Williams continues to show his dynamic potential, they’ll find room for him on game days.
“He’s smart, so he picks things up quickly,” coach Sean Payton said earlier in the week. “We just have to keep getting him reps. He’s someone that when he’s around the ball, he has really good ball skills. I’d say he’s doing well. We just have to keep getting him the work”.
Meanwhile, the Saints’ top draft pick -- cornerback Marshon Lattimore -- also drew praise during Friday’s practice with a pair of breakups in team drills, though he also gave up a couple of passes. Defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha also said he congratulated Lattimore on his aggressiveness on a play in run support Friday.
Lattimore just returned to practice this week after missing two weeks with a minor knee injury. The 11th overall pick in the draft will make his preseason debut Sunday against the Chargers.
Like Williams, Lattimore has not yet earned regular snaps with the first-string defense, but he did get a lot of snaps with the ones Friday. And with starter Delvin Breaux expected to miss six weeks after having surgery to repair a broken fibula, the Saints would love to see Lattimore step up and earn a starting job.