The Falcons' coaching staff still believes that Williams, a second-round pick in 2006, and Houston, a second-rounder this year, have enough talent to become starting defensive backs. For now, though, both players will serve the team better as reserves.
Coach Bobby Petrino wants Williams to close faster and hit harder. Williams, who's listed behind Chris Crocker at free safety, took most of the snaps in the preseason finale last week, a 13-10 victory over Baltimore.
On the Ravens' next-to-last drive, Williams recovered at the Baltimore 31.
Because Petrino wanted to avoid injuries to all of his first-teamers, Williams started for Crocker and Houston for Lewis Sanders.
Both players took most of the snaps at their positions, and Petrino liked what he saw. Houston led the Falcons with eight tackles, and his interception of quarterback Troy Smith ended Baltimore's final possession.
The Falcons return three starters, Crocker, left cornerback DeAngelo Hall and strong safety Lawyer Milloy, from a secondary that contributed last year to a Number 29 ranking against the pass.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)