James: I'm A Starter, Period
May 14, 2007
By JOHN CLAYTON
After spending half of last season with no team and a career in limbo, logic would tell you William James should just be happy to be on a football field again. James, however, is slightly more ambitious.
James stated bluntly on Monday he is healthy and ready to resume a career that took a disastrous turn in 2003 when the former Giant suffered a devastating lower back injury that almost cost him his career. More importantly, James stated frankly his objective for the season.
"I want to be a starter. Period," James said.
That statement might sound rather stirring to begin with. But James' aspirations don't end there.
CB William James -
"I want to be the best cornerback in the league," James said. "And this camp was
definitely a good start to that."
That's boastful coming from a player who played in only six games over the past two seasons, including just four of ten games after signing a free agent contract with the Eagles last October.
James was used primarily as a nickel corner, although he did see extended playing time in place of an injured Lito Sheppard in the Eagles Divisional Playoff loss against New Orleans.
Sheppard's illness during this past weekend's mini-camp meant James spent most of the weekend practicing with the first-team defense.
Yet James is eyeing a more permanent appointment, and has the talent to back up his boastful claims. During his first five years with the Giants, James' talent and consistency earned him a spot as one of the league's most highly-regarded young corners. James has spent the last year doing Pilates to help strengthen his back, while at the same allowing the knee and calf injuries that nagged him last season to heal.
Now after signing a one-year deal with the Eagles in the offseason, James is finally healthy and ready to resume his rising career where it left off.
"Just saying 'Pro Bowl' lets you know my intentions," James said in a conference call after he agreed to terms on a one-year deal. "Obviously I'm not going to the Pro Bowl being a nickel back."
James appears to have told the world about his desire to start. But what about the ones who make the decisions-the coaches?
"I told the world," James said. "They're a part of that."
It seems Andy Reid and co. have gotten the message - even if it was given indirectly.
In early May, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson indicated the door was open for James to earn his coveted starters role. In a published report, Johnson heaped praise upon James, while stating that he expected James to push current right cornerback Sheldon Brown for starting time.
In his press conference Sunday, Johnson was more diplomatic, although he continued to extol the efforts of James.
"(William) looks good," Johnson said. "If you watch practice, you can see he's
making plays. Will is a heck of a corner. He's a battler and he looks good. He's
going to help us."
Although Johnson's statements appear to open the door for the impatient James, the corner didn't seem to take much stock in his coach's comments. James said his play on the field would leave his coaches without a decision to make.
"I'll decide that," James said. "My confidence comes from within. Whatever the coaches say that's their thing, I just got to go take care of things on the field.
"Whatever I have to get through to get to my goal I'll go through."
CB Sheldon Brown Right now, what James has to get through to reach his goal is Sheldon Brown, who is entering his sixth year in the NFL and has spent the last three seasons starting at right cornerback. In addition Brown appears to be part of the Eagles' long-term plans-he is under contract until 2012.
Though it's impossible for Brown not to hear the ambition exuded from his defensive backfield mate, Brown downplayed the competition at his position as something he's grown accustomed to over his career.
"Every year it's a competition," Brown said. "You're saying every year I started here it was just given to me and we've been going to the playoffs? I don't think so. We all play the game and every year I'm fighting my butt off to keep a job.
"When you think your job is a lock, that's when your game falls apart."
For the time being, the problem of three starting caliber corners is one the Eagles are undoubtedly glad to have. Yet from a more personal standpoint, it's apparent James is committed to his desire to start in 2007.
"I don't deal with doubt, fear, none of that. I know what I've come through. All I see is the end," James said. "I've always been a starter since the first time I was on the field in New York. I was a starter then and I'm a starter now, period."
James is pretty cocky isn't he? Is this the same Will James(Peterson) who was cut by the Giants, and the Eagles picked up off the street? Sheldon may have not had a great year, but I don't see the often injured James taking his spot. At least I don't think he could. I guess cofidence, and competition is a good thing. This starting talk, just seems a little suprising to me.