Brandon Williams is “just a guy,” but Ravens run defense needs him

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NFL teams love to talk about “next man up” whenever someone gets injured, but not all men are created equal when it comes to their ability to impact a football game.

One prime example of that is in Baltimore, where the Ravens have been playing without defensive tackle Brandon Williams and the results of those efforts make it clear that things aren’t the same when someone else is in his spot. After allowing 170 rushing yards in the first two games with Williams in the lineup, the Ravens have allowed 678 rushing yards in four games without him.

Williams’ foot injury has healed to the point that he was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice and their chances of having him in the mix on Sunday against the Vikings are looking pretty good. That’s a pretty good thing for the Ravens, although Williams did his best on Wednesday to avoid casting himself as the savior of the team’s run defense.

“I’m just a guy. I’m just a guy who is working to get back on the field. That’s all I’m doing,” Williams said, via the Baltimore Sun. “Today felt good. I have two more days to go. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon. We’ll just take it day by day, play by play and just see how it goes. I’m just trying to worry about practices and make sure I have all my bearings back.”

Williams said this offseason that the Ravens defense could do “something really special” this season. His return to action might not make that happen, but it should bring them closer than they’ve been without him.