Avery Williams, now a running back, impressing in Falcons camp

Falcons linebacker Lorenzo Carter, left, grabs the jersey of running back Avery Williams, right, during a drill at training camp at the Falcons Practice Facility, Monday, August 1, 2022, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Falcons linebacker Lorenzo Carter, left, grabs the jersey of running back Avery Williams, right, during a drill at training camp at the Falcons Practice Facility, Monday, August 1, 2022, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Two weeks into Falcons training camp, one standout is Avery Williams, the cornerback-turned-running-back whose pass-catching ability already looks like an asset. Williams is a special-teams ace who seemingly has more to offer on offense than defense.

The Falcons drafted Williams in the fifth round of the 2021 draft after a four-year career at Boise State, where he starred as a special-teamer. Williams appeared in 15 games as a rookie, making 22 tackles and forcing a fumble.

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This season, Williams is shifting to running back, a position he last played at JSerra Catholic High School in California. Williams, listed at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, gives the team another elusive, speedy piece on offense. The Falcons had success moving do-it-all weapon Cordarrelle Patterson to running back a season ago, so there’s evidence they’ll know how to maximize Williams in his new role.

“Handling the transition and then coming out here and showing flashes that he can make plays,” Smith said when asked how Williams has encouraged in training camp. “Practice, you’ve got to show it, and then as we gradually step into the season, we’ll get more opportunities in games and in those competitive practices. He’s made some plays out here. Pretty dependable guy, so I’m excited about him.”

Williams also is more physical than some might think. He pushed through multiple defenders during practice Saturday as he continued showing how he can impact a Falcons offense desperate for more playmakers.

“I take tremendous pride (in being tough to bring down),” Williams told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Being a hard runner and being hard to bring down. I’m someone who’s always going to finish my run and look to get any yard I can get. Whether it’s one yard, two yards or 10 yards, I’m going to fight for that extra yard. Every yard we get, it makes our scoring percentage that much higher. That’s going to help us win.”

Special teams are the priority, but Williams would seem like a potential change-of-pace complementary weapon for the Falcons, whose offense will center around the towering duo of Kyle Pitts and Drake London, along with Patterson.

The Falcons could have a nice group of receiving backs with Patterson, Damien Williams and Williams. Not to mention bruiser Tyler Allgeier, a rookie who’s had some physical runs of his own during camp.

“There are certain guys – that’s why I don’t get into comparisons – if you had a Darren Sproles, that’s a traditional (receiving back),” Smith said. “Those guys are elite coming out of the backfield, guys like that, but that’s what makes CP unique. He’s got strong hands. He may not be a Darren Sproles, traditional back coming out of the backfield, but there are other things that CP does. I think Avery has pretty good hands. All of those guys work on them. If they show that they can run certain routes and they have reliable hands, then you put more stuff in for them that way.”

Williams added: “There’s a lot of variety (with the team’s running backs). But at the same time, we all have similar foundations. Playmaking, high-effort, high-character players.”

The Falcons face the Lions in the exhibition opener Friday night. Williams will get chances in the exhibition games to show how his transition can help the offense. It’s one thing to do it in practice; it’s another to show the skill set in games.