New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (62) celebrates the...

New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (62) celebrates the safety against Atlanta Falcons quarterback T.J. Yates (13) in the first half on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 at MetLife Stadium. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The comparisons already have begun.

Leonard Williams' breakout performance against the Falcons on Friday night earned the Jets rookie plenty of praise from his teammates.

"He's big," right guard Willie Colon said of Williams. "He's big-bodied. He's so young, he doesn't realize the potential he actually has.

"He has that Richard Seymour-type body," Colon added, referring to the seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion defensive tackle. "That prototype [body], and sky's the limit for the kid."

Williams, aka "Big Cat," delivered some big-time plays in front of the home crowd during Friday night's 30-22 preseason win over the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium. He registered 1.5 sacks (including a safety), five tackles, three QB hits and three tackles for a loss.

Trailing 14-0 early in the second quarter, an unblocked Williams took down backup quarterback T.J. Yates in the end zone for a safety. On the Falcons' next drive, Williams and Jason Babin teamed up for a third-down sack of backup quarterback Sean Renfree, resulting in an 8-yard loss and a Falcons punt.

Both plays by Williams, the Jets' first-round draft pick at No. 6 overall, helped set up scoring drives by the Jets -- first, a 33-yard touchdown by Chris Ivory, which pulled the Jets to within 14-10, followed by a 36-yard field goal by Nick Folk that closed the gap, 14-13.

It was the type of performance the Jets needed, given the early collective struggles of the first-team defense and the absence of Muhammad Wilkerson (hamstring injury) and Sheldon Richardson (who is playing primarily with the backups because of his off-the-field transgressions and will serve a four-game suspension to start the regular season).

"I've got to look at the film to see how he did on every other play," Todd Bowles said, referring to Williams' performance, "but he did make two big plays that kind of turned on the light for everybody."

The rookie, however, downplayed his breakout moment.

"I know preseason doesn't really count and also it was a wide open sack," the 21-year-old Williams said of his first NFL sack being a safety.

"Guys were saying, 'Thanks for the fire,' " Williams said. "I definitely like that role. I definitely try my hardest to get the guys going."

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