Updated: 5-22-09, 5:20 a.m.
Bengals safety Roy Williams didn't think it was very funny when someone observed the other day that watching him practice without pads would be as instructive about his game as watching him play another sport.
After all, Williams has gone to five Pro Bowls with fierce tackling, big hits and intimidation, qualities not readily available in shorts and not allowed until the pads come on at training camp.
But "you can still see I haven't lost anything, I haven't lost a step," he says, and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer went a step further after watching Williams in the first three voluntary practices this week.
Zimmer agreed the spring workouts don't accentuate Williams' strengths, "but you can tell if it's a weakness and I haven't seen that yet," Zimmer said.
Louie Cioffi, the Bengals assistant secondary coach in charge of safeties, is seeing on the field what he saw when the Bengals worked out Williams two months ago.
"He's done a great job with low body position, great knee bend, coming out of his breaks and he's really taking to the system," Cioffi said. "He's shown the ability to cover receivers and tight ends in this camp."
That, of course, was the knock on Williams and a big reason why nobody picked him up until the Bengals signed him two weeks ago. The coaches were mystified where the knock came from after they worked him out and this week has confirmed their belief he can work in their scheme.
"From Day One when he arrived here he's shown he has the ability to cover," Cioffi said. "It's never been an issue with us like it has been with others. In the one-on-one drills he's covering tight ends and receivers."
"We," said Zimmer, "just have to make sure we get him in different positions."
He's splitting time with the other safeties, but that's what Zimmer is doing with the rest of the defense. Equal reps so there can be an equal evaluation.
"Let me tell you something," Williams said. "Any time I have a chance to get on the football field I'm going to make the most of it I can. It doesn't matter what position you're in, what depth you're in. When you're called on, you've got to perform, and if you perform, it will pay off and hopefully it changes. If not, there is no I in team."
Williams also liked what he saw from everybody else.
"I'm still getting acclimated, but I'm getting there," Williams said. "There was excitement out there. You could tell the receivers were definitely excited to have Carson back.
"There's a family type atmosphere. Nobody is trying to outshine anybody else."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» After cutting center-guard Digger Bujnoch on Thursday, the Bengals still have to release five more players before they go to training camp at Georgetown College in 40 days. Rosters have to be at 80. They now have 13 offensive linemen.
» One of them who is definitely going to make it, No. 1 pick Andre Smith, continues to make news off the field. It looks like he's not going to stay with agent Rick Smith. Smith's Chicago-based firm, Priority Sports and Entertainment, released the following statement Thursday on ProFootballTalk.com:
"In regards to Andre Smith, we are moving forward and devoting all of our attention on the high character, hard working and honest clients of Priority Sports.
"We were asked to come in at the last minute to provide credibility to his draft status and we succeeded in that task. Soon after the draft, Andre Smith became a tremendous distraction to our company. What we have subsequently determined is that Andre Smith does not match the culture of Priority Sports and the character of the clients we take so much pride in representing. This will be our final statement on this matter."
Sources and reports have said Andre Smith is going to rehire Alvin Keels. That has scuttled a meeting that was set this week with Rick Smith and Bengals management to lay the groundwork for contract negotiations.
» The Bengals said Thursday they don't have a deal in place with the Ohio Lottery like the one the Patriots struck in Massachusetts the day after NFL owners voted to allow teams to pursue state lottery sponsorships. Per policy, the club won't comment on possible future deals.