Two years ago, during a sit-down interview for the Big Blue Chat podcast co-hosted by Pat Traina and yours truly, I asked New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas, in his first year with the Giants at the time, this question: Which teammate you didn’t know anything about when you got here has really impressed you the most?
Casillas’ answer was a stunner. He chose Nikita Whitlock, who ended up making the team and contributing as both a fullback and a defensive tackle.
We enjoyed that, and Casillas did, too. Thus a tradition was born. Last season, Casillas chose fifth-round pick Paul Perkins as his player to watch, and by season’s end Perkins was the Giants’ best running back.
On Monday, Patty and I sat on ledge outside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center with Casillas for this year’s sit-down with a guy who has gone from a bit player to full-time starter and defensive captain.
His choice this time? Another stunner — defensive end Jordan Williams. With a crowd at defensive end Williams, signed to the Giants practice squad late last season, seems to have an uphill climb to make the 53-man roster.
Casillas acknowledged that the defensive end spot is “pretty loaded,” but added “I think the way he’s playing right now he could be a Giant for sure. I would take him on my team if I could decide.”
“The way he plays, last game, and I see him in practice the way he runs to the ball, his skill. He has a great motor. I hope we can keep him,” Casillas said.
Williams, formerly with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, is competing with Romeo Okwara, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Devin Taylor and Avery Moss for a roster spot.
Casillas also spoke about B.J. Goodson, the idea that one of the things that makes the team’s defense successful is a willingness by stars to put their egos aside, and his own ascension from a special teams player early in his career to a starter and key player at this point in his career.
Be sure to give the show a listen.