Cary Williams read Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb’s eyes and wide receiver Santana Moss’ footwork, immediately diagnosing the pass pattern.
And the Baltimore Ravens’ cornerback recorded his second interception of the preseason Saturday night during a 23-3 win over the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.
Williams positioned himself in front of Moss for the pick and returned it 37 yards.
“Santana Moss was running a post,” Williams said. “He tried to widen me out a little bit, and come back underneath me. I stayed over top and the ball was a little underthrown.
“I guess Donovan was trying to give the guy an advantage on the ball because of my position, I was on top of the shoulder. And I just came down, seen it, and intercepted it. Tried to run as fast as I could.”
Williams said last week that he would return his next interception for a touchdown.
It hasn’t happened yet, but he’ll gladly keep trying.
“It’s part of the game,” Williams said. “I didn’t have that chance. Maybe I just need to follow my blocks a little bit more.”
While Travis Fisher got the start struggled against the Redskins, Williams thrived and could move up on the depth chart.
Suspended for the first two games without pay for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is emerging as a valuable contributor in the secondary.
Williams isn’t resting on his laurels.
“I still feel like I’ve got work to do,” Williams said. “I’m never satisfied, I’m never content with where I’m at. Although those interceptions are great and it feels great to get interceptions, I still have things I need to improve on. I’m not the perfect corner, I’m not Darrelle Revis by any means, and that’s the standard right now.
“Him and Nnamdi Asomugha, those guys are the standard. I’m just going to go out there and take it one day at a time and try to learn something each day, become a sponge, and try to improve my game each day.”
Down the road, Williams would like to develop into a starter.
He’s still a bit raw as a prospect, but the Ravens love his potential.
“If it comes to that, yeah, I’m ready,” Williams said. “I know I have to grow as a player, I have to mature as a player. There are some things I could’ve done better, and I can improve every day. I’m going to prepare like I’m a starter, so that I can go out there and help my team win.”
BIG NIGHT: Jason Phillips had an impressive game as he battles for a roster spot.
In the third quarter, he sacked Rex Grossman and forced him to fumble and recovered the football.
He recovered another Grossman fumble in the fourth quarter on linebacker Prescott Burgess’ second sack of the game.
“It was a lot of fun for me to get back out there and make some plays,” said Phillips, a fifth-round draft pick last season who was on injured reserve last year with a knee injury. “I’ve been waiting for that chance since last year to get out there and make something happen.
“Luckily, I was in the right position to do it and fortunately I made the play. It wasn’t really too much instinct. I just ran in there and he couldn’t get away from me.”
A four-time All-Mountain West Conference selection at Texas Christian, Phillips led the Ravens with six tackles against Carolina.
“It’s good to see,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s what he did in college. It’s good to see those types of things showing up in game situations. He’s got a little bit of a knack for making plays, especially in the run game.”
A fifth-round draft pick last year, Phillips spent all of last season on injured reserve with a knee injury.
He’s facing an uphill climb for a job since the Ravens have a lot of depth at inside linebacker.
Of the young inside linebackers, Phillips has made the most impactful plays this preseason.
“I think I’m in the competition right now,” Phillips said. “There’s a lot of good ‘backers on this team. It’s still a tight race. It’s a long preseason and a long season, so it’s just going to come down to who can stay steady and who can stay consistent.”
If Phillips doesn’t make the Ravens’ roster, he’s also auditioning for the other NFL teams.
Ideally, he’d like to remain in Baltimore.
“You’re getting great film, but I love the organization,” Phillips said. “I don’t want to play anywhere else. I’m doing whatever I can to stay.”
A LEG UP: Kicker Billy Cundiff knocked in field goals from 26 and 42 yards in his first preseason attempts.
Shayne Graham made a24-yarder in the fourth quarter and is 2 for 3 overall this preseason with one miss from 50 yards.
“It felt good to get a couple of chances and take advantage of it,” Cundiff said. “I think it’s going well. I just do my job. Have I made all my attempts?
“Yeah. Have I kicked off well? Yeah. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. So far, so good. It’s been a real good competition.”
BOUNCING BACK: Running back Jalen Parmele rushed for a touchdown and gained 18 yards on seven carries against the Redskins.
He lost seven yards and coughed up a fumble that was returned for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers last week.
“It motivated me a lot,” Parmele said. “I didn’t dwell on it too much. It’s a new day, it’s a new game. I really just focused on what I had to do and what I had to do to help the team.”
Parmele wasn’t entirely thrilled with his performance, but it was much better than how he opened the preseason.
“Sure, it was a good night,” Parmele said. “I’m not satisfied. I can still get better. It was a decent night.”
Parmele returned one kickoff for 32 yards, but thought he should have picked up more yardage.
“I was a little disappointed about that one,” Parmele said. “I fumbled the ball around a little bit, so I couldn’t hit it like I wanted to. Give all the credit to the guys blocking hard on that one because it was good.”
MCCLAIN STARTS AGAIN: For the second game in a row, Jameel McClain started at inside linebacker opposite All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis.
He registered three tackles and two quarterback pressures as he seemed to maintain his lead over Dannell Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden.
McClain played much better than he did during the first game against the Carolina Panthers when he got knocked down by fullback Tony Fiametta on an isolation play.
“Definitely, obviously the first game is always a little bit too much adrenaline going on out there,” McClain said. “Definitely flowed a lot better in my opinion of how I felt.”
Ellerbe recorded two tackles and Gooden was credited with one.
WILLIAMS SPRAINS ANKLE: Wide receiver Demetrius Williams sprained his right ankle, but emphasized that the injury is minor.
“I don’t think it’s serious,” Williams said. “I’ll definitely be practicing. It’s minor. I didn’t get no X-rays. I should be back Monday.”
Williams hurt his ankle during a 12-yard reception in the second quarter.
“Demetrius had a little bit of a turned ankle,” Harbaugh said. “So, it doesn’t look serious.”
Afterward, Williams was limping slightly.
However, he says he won’t be missing any practice time.
Not with him in the thick of a competition for a roster spot with David Reed, Marcus Smith and Justin Harper.
“I’ll definitely be practicing,” Williams said. “I can’t afford to miss any practices right now.”
The Ravens didn’t report any other injuries, but tight end Todd Heap was checked out during the game and had something X-rayed. It’s believed to be his thumb.
Team officials said he’s fine.
RESTING CARR: The Ravens decided to go with Fisher rather than expose Chris Carr’s left hamstring to further damage.
“It was up in the air with the trainers and stuff,” Carr said. “When I went in the game last week, the first play I kind of felt it again. It’s one of those things where you feel good and you want to play because you’re competitive, but it probably wasn’t the most prudent decision last week for me to go in there.
“I feel good. Unless something crazy happens, I’ll be full-speed playing against the Giants. As soon as we start practicing again, I’ll be out there doing every rep. I feel now like I’m 100 percent. They just wanted to be extra cautions because of what happened last week.”
MOLL GETS THE START: With Jared Gaither and Oniel Cousins sidelined with injuries, Tony Moll got a rare start at right offensive tackle.
Moll had missed a significant amount of time earlier in camp with a concussion.
“It was really exciting since I wasn’t able to play last week,” Moll said. “I had a lot of energy to expel. It was a good week to do that. They have a lot of proven rushers. So, it was definitely a good confidence-booster proving to myself that I can still do it.”
BIG HIT: Unsuspecting undrafted rookie outside linebacker Albert McClellan got crushed on a crack-back block while covering a punt.
McClellan was sent flying through the air by Redskins fullback Darrel Young during the third quarter.
“I didn’t see him, I guess that’s my welcome to the next level,” McClellan said. “It was a good, solid hit.”
Was McClellan able to get even with the Redskins after being shaken up?
“Not the way I wanted to, I got a good little hit in there toward the end, nothing like the way they got me,” he said. “I’m just waiting to get another chance.
“When I get another chance, somebody is going to feel it. The returner set the block up perfect. It was just a good block.”
HOMECOMING: Cornerback Doug Dutch, a Washington native who was traded to Baltimore from the Redskins in exchange for John Beck weeks ago, said it felt strange to play against his old team.
“It was bittersweet at first to see my old teammates and some of my old friends,” he said. “You still got to do your job.”
Dutch’s father was in the stands wearing his University of Michigan jersey.
“I bet a couple of my old friends that we were going to win,” Dutch said. “I played pretty good.”
QUICK HITS: Burgess led the Ravens with six tackles and two sacks, forcing one fumble.
“I think I played good,” he said. “I played a little Sam and Mike. They let me blitz. That’s one of my specialties.”
Burgess said his migraine headache that sidelined him for one practice has subsided.
“I just had to overcome all that,” Burgess said. “Just a one-day thing.”
Does he suffer from severe migraines like Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin?
“Hell, nah,” Burgess said. “I’m too tough for that. I’m no wide receiver.” …
Wide receiver Justin Harper continues to struggle with his hands, dropping a key third-down pass from Marc Bulger that forced the Ravens to settle for a field goal.