Joejuan Willams suffered a shoulder injury, according to a tweet from NFL insider Ian Rapoport. The injury will place Williams on the injured reserve list for the 2022 season, freeing up a spot for several roster hopefuls.
The former 2019 second-round pick from Vanderbilt University was in the midst of a position battle at cornerback before the injury occurred during training camp. In the first preseason game against the New York Giants, Williams recorded four tackles and one pass defended but allowed a touchdown to New York receiver Richie James.
The Cornerback Room Without Joejuan Williams
Aside from roster locks in Jalen Mills, Terrance Mitchell, Jonathon Jones, and rookies Marcus and Jack Jones, New England’s depth at cornerback is still uncertain. Former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, college standout Shaun Wade, and slot cornerback Myles Bryant remain in the fight for the final depth chart position.
While Malcolm Butler’s experience gives him excellent upside to lead a young cornerback room, foregoing the 2021 season has many wondering if he has lost a step at the corner position. Butler, now 32, needs to prove to the coaches and organization that his best playing days are not behind him. To do so, Butler will need to show out better than he did in the first preseason game, where despite recovering a Terrance Mitchell-forced fumble, he failed to make a noticeable impact.
As for Shaun Wade and Myles Bryant, earning their spot on the roster will depend on their dependability outside of the cornerback position. Head Coach Bill Belichick values versatility, specifically on special teams, forcing Bryant and Wade to show their willingness to contribute anywhere on the field.
During training camp this season, Myles Bryant practiced as a punt returner, alongside fellow defensive back Marcus Jones and receiver Tre Nixon. In the first preseason game, Bryant rattled off punt returns of 30 and 23 yards, causing his stock to rise in Foxboro. That said, Shaun Wade showed great poise as a boundary cornerback, proving his dependability down the line, if injuries should occur, could be invaluable.
While Joejuan Williams is on the mend, the position battle at cornerback will continue and likely sort itself out before the final cut-down day, on August 30th.