Aaron Williams is a Buffalo Bills cornerback. He’s also a 22-year-old human being.
He’s working hard to reconcile the two.
Williams has endured a difficult season so far. The 34th overall pick in last year’s draft was expected to hold down the left cornerback spot.
He’s barely hanging on to the job, and he has encountered fans eager for him to plummet down the depth chart.
Williams has started all six games so far, but he looks lost in coverage. The analytical site ProFootballFocus.com has charted Williams for five touchdowns allowed, the most by any NFL cornerback.
“I heard about that stat,” Williams said after Thursday’s practice at One Bills Drive. “It got me down for a little bit. But the only stat to worry about is wins and losses.
“Move on to the next week. Those five touchdowns can’t come back in the future. It’s in the stat book. It is what it is. You learn from it.”
Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck certainly will look for ways to exploit Williams on Sunday afternoon in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
ProFootballFocus.com’s play-by-play breakdown shows 61 percent of the passes thrown into Williams’ coverage have been completed. Opposing quarterbacks have a 129.2 passer rating when throwing at him.
Williams’ playing time dipped in Sunday’s road victory over the Arizona Cardinals, with the Bills choosing to play veteran Terrence McGee more. If not for McGee’s nagging knee injury, Williams might already have been supplanted in the starting lineup.
“I try not to let the past tread on my future,” Williams said. “I know the last few weeks have been rough for me, but it’s part of the NFL, man. Those guys are pros, too. They’re going to make plays. Nobody’s going to be perfect. It’s a learning experience.”
Williams has been targeted by angry Bills fans even more than by opposing quarterbacks. He frequently receives tweets that tell him how awful he is, that he should be cut.
“The great thing about social media is people like to say things behind their computers,” Williams said. “I try to stay off that. It’s hard because I’m young, and I have to learn that sometimes you don’t have to read that stuff.
“There are times when people ask if it bothers me, and, of course, I’m going to say ‘No.’ Obviously, it does bother me because I am human. You don’t want to let anybody down. But at the same time you’re not going to make everybody happy. One of the things I’m learning this year is to focus on myself and not try to please everybody.”
Williams got 41 plays (56 percent of the defensive snaps) on Sunday and 47 plays (70 percent) against the San Francisco 49ers a week earlier.
McGee was on the field for 35 plays (48 percent) on Sunday after getting only 15 plays (22 percent) in San Francisco.
For a comparison, rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore played 96 percent of the snaps in each of the past two games.
Bills coach Chan Gailey said the Williams-McGee rotation will continue but Leodis McKelvin and Justin Rogers could enter the equation if the position doesn’t stabilize.
Arizona was the most action McGee has seen this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s taking Williams’ job.
McGee missed his second straight practice Thursday and admitted his knee still is dictating how much he’ll play. He tore his patellar tendon last season and continues to experience discomfort.
“The majority of the time I can feel it,” McGee said. “It hasn’t been real disappointing because I’m able to go out there and cover guys, but you want to get to that point to where you’re not worrying or thinking about your knee. I’m trying to get to that.”
McGee acknowledged that if he wasn’t dealing with a knee problem that he would be in better position to take over the starting role.
“If everything was OK, that’s what I would want,” McGee said. “If I’m feeling 100 percent, I feel like I would compete for that job a little bit more.”
Gailey indicated he’s not ready to pull the plug on Williams yet – even if McGee were healthy.
“He just needs to keep playing and keep getting confidence in himself,” Gailey said of Williams. “He’s got ability. We all have seen that. And I think he’s going to be just fine.
“That’s not one of the biggest problems that we have. If it becomes a bigger problem, then we’ve got to make an adjustment.”