OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Bobbie Williams expects to feel a variety of emotions in his first game with the Ravens on Monday night.
It’s not just because the left guard will be making his Baltimore debut. It’s that the opposition is the Cincinnati Bengals.
Williams played eight years for Cincinnati before signing with Baltimore as a free agent in June. So when he looks across the line of scrimmage in the season opener, the 6-foot-4, 345-pounder will see several of the same players he once faced in practice. And that is going to be strange.
“For a second,” Williams acknowledged. “And then, you know what? It’s business. It’s go Ravens right now. But for a second I’m going to go, `That’s a little weird.”‘
Williams started 118 games for Cincinnati from 2004 through last year. In six of those eight years, he started every game. He missed three starts in 2006 while recovering from an appendectomy, and last year he was shelved in December with a broken ankle.
“Bobbie has been a great workhorse here as one of the leaders, one of the lieutenants,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “Nobody has anything but great things to say about Bobbie.”
Especially some of those guys he used bang helmets with in practice.
“Bobbie is one of those who, when it comes to being a true professional, he’s right up there on the list,” Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko said. “When I came in as a rookie he was one of the first guys to take me under his wing. He actually showed me around the city and was able to help me get a house here in Northern Kentucky.”
Peko and tackle Geno Atkins know Williams, and he is quite acquainted with them. So, as in most battles in the trenches, the one with the most leverage and quickness wins.
“I played against him for six years now so I know what to expect of him,” Peko said. “He’s a big guy. He’s a big, big guy. He’s strong at the point of attack. I know some of his tendencies and he knows some of mine, so it’s going to be a good battle.”
Atkins said: “He’s tough, he’s physical, he’s a vet. He’s been in the game for 12-plus years, so he’s seen every move you can get.”
Williams has a way of gaining the upper hand — quite literally.
“He’s huge himself, so you know he’s going to have some big hands and those big arms,” Peko said. “Bobbie, his are probably one of the biggest (hands) I’ve ever seen.”
If Williams finds a way to use those big mitts without holding, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice could have huge games.
“I’ve got to make sure he doesn’t get his hands on me,” Atkins said.
In the days leading up to the game, Williams, Peko and Atkins are sure to exchange text messages and emails. It will almost be good-natured fun.
“They know not to let it get too out of hand. That’s just respect,” Williams said. “My motivation is just stepping on the field. That just happens to be a place I was at. Yeah, I know a couple guys over there. I’m going to take joy in playing against them. I’ll make sure I keep this smile on my face. It’s not hatred.
“I’m looking forward to having a little fun out there. I’ve been looking forward to this one since I got here in Baltimore. Just let Monday night speak for itself.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)