PHILADELPHIA – Who says training camp always has to be a grind?
On Day Two, cornerback Avonte Maddox stood just outside the tent where the podium is and every few seconds let loose with quick, chirping bursts of, “Ant,” when safety Anthony Harris was speaking with reporters.
On Friday, Day 3 of Eagles training camp, rookie Milton Williams took his place behind a roped-off area away from the podium to answer some questions, specifically about how he is settling in at defensive end and his ability to move inside and outside.
Boston Scott, looking like a Blues Brothers wearing a dark pair of shades, stepped beside his Williams, looking like his bodyguard.
Asked by a reporter if he was just there for security, Scott replied, “I’m just security ma’am, I’m just here for precautionary measures.”
Scott is strong, no doubt. The running back was a state powerlifting champion in high school back in Louisiana, but next to the long-armed, hulk-looking Williams, he looked like a kid.
Williams goes 6-3, 285. By all accounts from teammates, so far, he is quiet, as most rookies tend to be.
"He’s cool, laid-back, really doesn’t say too much," said DE Brandon Graham. "He’ll say a lot now because I’m going to poke at him. If we’re going to be in the room together, we gotta know each other. It’s been fun because I think he opened up those three weeks (in OTAs) he was here.
"It’s all about developing trust, and I think he’s starting to trust the guys in the room … We’ll see how it goes when adversity hits, and we’ll see what type of team we got."
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Early on in camp, Williams is making some noise, looking very much like he will have a big role in defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s system.
“He's extremely intelligent and he has a lot of football instincts,” said Gannon. “I think he can play five spots on the defensive line, so it is our job figuring out what are his strengths, what are his weaknesses, get his weaknesses a little bit better. You're going to see him move all over the place.”
Williams did that at Louisiana Tech, where he was a teammate for one year with Scott.
“I can play inside or outside," he said. "I just roll with it and try to show I can do those things at the NFL level. I’m going to do whatever coach needs me to do.
“My last year (at Louisiana Tech) I really had a choice whether I wanted to play D-end or go inside, but most of the time, I wanted to rush outside on third down.”
Williams had 4.5 sacks last year in college and 5.5 the year before that.
"He’s got the body frame to be inside or outside and I think that’s going to serve him well moving forward," said defensive lineman Ryan Kerrigan.
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The Eagles took him in the third round, a selection that caused some public rancor inside the draft room. Not from Gannon, though. The DC was shown pumping his fist after the pick.
“I’m my biggest critic, so I think I’ve been OK (after three days), but it’s not up to my standards,” said Williams. “This is a grind every day and it’s a jump from college to the NFL. It (isn’t) going to happen overnight, but like coach says, get one percent better every day and I’ll be fine.”
He’s been better than fine, though he has yet to go against Lane Johnson.
Williams has gone against Jordan Mailata, though.
“That’s a big dude,” said Williams. “I have to make sure I have my technique, my hands right, things like that, and I should be able to get it done.”
SI.com Eagle Maven asked the natural follow-up question about how he did against Mailata.
That’s when Scott stepped in. Williams bent low so the running back could whisper in his ear.
“The boss says I’m doing a great job,” said Williams, “so I’ll stick with that.”
The Eagles will, too.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.