Former BYU running back Ty'Son Williams runs for a gain in a preseason contest against the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 21. Williams is expected to start as the featured back for the Baltimore Ravens to begin the regular season. (Baltimore Ravens)

Cougars in the pros: Ty’Son Williams to start for Ravens on Monday Night Football

Former BYU running back Ty’Son Williams is slated to make his first career start at running back for the Baltimore Ravens Monday night, per the Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec.

Williams landed in Provo as a graduate transfer in 2019, rushing for 264 yards and four touchdowns before an ACL tear ended his season prematurely after four games. He went undrafted and spent 2020 on Baltimore’s practice squad, but shot up the depth chart this preseason after the Ravens’ running back group was ravaged by injuries.

“It’s crazy…really, words just can’t describe it,” Williams said of his unlikely journey to the NFL. “You just keep pressing forward, keep putting in the work, and you let everything else take care of itself.”

Williams felt that his performance in the team’s preseason games made all the difference, where he turned heads by logging 130 yards on 24 carries, averaging more than 5.4 yards per carry, to go along with a touchdown.

Williams stiff arms a defender against the Panthers. (Baltimore Ravens)

“Once the games started, I started playing in the games and I started playing at a high level,” Williams said. “Those are real, live reps against another team. I’ve been practicing that way, also, but I think games are really important to kind of instill that confidence in you.”

The Ravens will pair Williams in the backfield with the 2019 Most Valuable Player, Lamar Jackson, the NFL’s premier running quarterback. Williams called taking handoffs from Jackson “very exciting”, especially using the read-option for more explosive play designs.

“He’s a big part of the offense, and like I said, they have to devote a lot of attention to him,” Williams said of Jackson. “So, as (running) backs, we kind of have to exploit that.”

Williams and the Ravens will face off with the Las Vegas Raiders Monday night at 6:15 p.m. MDT.

NFL week one features several Cougar showdowns

The NFL’s opening Sunday saw a number of former BYU stars face off on opposing teams. Daniel Sorensen and the Kansas City Chiefs took down Sione Takitaki’s upstart Cleveland Browns, Brady Christensen and the Carolina Panthers spoiled Zach Wilson’s New York Jets debut and Fred Warner’s San Francisco 49ers took down the Detroit Lions despite a big day from Jamaal Williams.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson passes against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Wilson shook off a slow start to complete 20 of 37 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns, joining Hall of Famer Joe Namath as the only Jet with that stat line, or better, in their first career start at quarterback. Wilson’s performance was hindered by poor showings from his teammates, with five dropped passes from receivers and the offensive line allowing Wilson to be sacked six times. Christensen recorded four snaps for the Panthers on special teams.

Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams (30) celebrates his touchdown run with Jason Cabinda (45) in the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Lon Horwedel)

In his Detroit debut, Williams led the Lions with 54 rushing yards and a touchdown to pair with 56 receiving yards out of the backfield. Warner, recently voted the 21st-best player in the NFL, led both teams with 11 total tackles in the contest. Sorensen made four tackles at safety for the Chiefs, while Takitaki made one of his own.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Mike Hughes, right, celebrates with defensive back Daniel Sorensen (49) after intercepting a pass intended for Cleveland Browns tight end Harrison Bryant during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy kicked off his second stint with the New England Patriots with three tackles, a sack and a pass defended against the Miami Dolphins. New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill completed a three-yard pass in a blowout against the Green Bay Packers along with two carries for negative yardage. Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Michael Davis recorded four tackles and a forced fumble against Dax Milne’s Washington Football Team, with Milne taking the field for two snaps at receiver in a 20-16 loss.

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga and Patriots linebacker Harvey Langi both remained on the bench as reserves in their team’s contests. Chiefs defensive back Zayne Anderson was called up from the practice squad to the active roster, and former BYU safety Kai Nacua — the older brother of current Cougar receivers Samson and Puka — was signed to San Francisco’s practice squad.

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