The New York Jets will spend the first four games of the season without the services of suspended Pro Bowl defensive end Sheldon Richardson, a loss that magnifies the role of rookie lineman Leonard Williams.
The sixth-overall pick is now tasked with making an immediate contribution alongside fellow end Muhammad Wilkerson and big-bodied nose tackle Damon Harrison. So far, so good.
After Jets coach Todd Bowles praised Williams' maturity -- "He doesn't carry himself like a young 20-year-old," Bowles said in May -- Harrison went out of his way this week to gush over the former USC star.
"Damn good guy, heck of an athlete, freakish athlete," Harrison said of Williams on Thursday, per NJ.com. "He picked up on what we've installed. He picked up on that pretty quick, so it's allowed him to play faster than what other rookies have been doing. That's a credit to him, man, because it's not easy to learn an NFL defense.
"And he communicates with us. He talks. That's one thing you don't find in a lot of rookies. They're quiet and they're just trying to learn. He talks. He wants to know: 'OK, what are you doing on this play?' He's trying to make sure he knows what you're doing, so that he can adjust his game to that."
Jets linebacker David Harris acknowledged after the draft that the Williams selection "caught a lot of people by surprise," but added that he "loved" the pick. We wager Jets fans will, too. It's stunning that Williams was still hanging around at No. 6, giving New York's already insane defensive front another berserker-type run-stuffer for opponents to deal with.
With Darrelle Revis back in Gotham to anchor a vastly upgraded secondary, the Jets don't offer many weaknesses on defense. Challengers can aim to pick up yards through the air against arguably the game's finest cornerback -- or attempt to run the ball against a green-colored brick wall. Good luck with that.
The latest Around The NFL Podcast invites NFL NOW's Colleen Wolfe into the studio to discuss recent news from around the league, including the new contracts for Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas.