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Tramon Williams' leadership, playmaking instinct fueling his return to the Packers

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Tramon Williams' leadership, playmaking instinct fueling his return to the Packers

-- When Tramon Williams was signed to the Green Bay Packers' practice squad midway through the 2006 season, he was signing a contract with a team already sporting an abundance of veteran knowledge in their secondary.

It took some time before the cornerback's well-documented ascension up the Packers' depth chart saw him play in 16 games in seven of his next eight seasons in Green Bay and become a primary component to their Super Bowl run in 2010.

Now, Williams returns to the Packers' secondary with strength in not just his performance at the age of 34 last season, but leadership.

"When I came in, it was a veteran-filled team," Williams said on Thursday after the Packers' penultimate public OTA practice. "It was a lot easier because I was able to learn from guys who have been there for so long already, so it was a lot easier to pick up things."

Williams joined a secondary in 2006 -- albeit as a member of the practice squad -- with cornerbacks such as the newly-acquired Charles Woodson and lengthily-tenured Al Harris. Both of which presumably played a significant role in Williams' formative years as a young player.

"I kind of went through the process of going through the practice squad to the active roster and I had to learn on the fly. But I wasn't rushed in and I was able to learn from guys."

Williams is the oldest player on the Packers' roster after turning 35 just days before it was announced he had returned for a second stint in Green Bay.

One of the biggest perks behind acquiring Williams was finding the right fit who can mentor the young group of cornerbacks on the roster, including the two newly-drafted players at the position: Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson.

Williams' role is more important now than ever after the Packers hired Mike Pettine to be their new defensive coordinator in January. Instilling a new scheme and being able to help translate it into a teachable fashion on the field and in the classroom to younger players helps Williams, a newfound leader in the locker room, seem invaluable.

“The good thing about [Mike] Pettine’s defense is it’s not overly-hard at all—you don’t have to think that much. Guys are really out there playing fast right away, and if you can get guys to play fast right away and just continue to get more reps, that’s what you want.

"You don’t want guys thinking when they’re out on the field. You want guys to be playing, and I feel that’s what guys are doing right now; they’re just playing right now. To get guys playing like that that early is pretty good, so I think I like where we’re at right now.”

But Williams also has familiarity with the Packers' new defensive coordinator. Williams played under Pettine in 2015 with the Cleveland Browns when Pettine was in his final year as head coach, but now their paths cross again under different circumstances.

On top of being someone who can be relied on for instructive purposes, Williams is still capable of performing at a high level.

Williams played in 13 games in his lone season with the Arizona Cardinals en route to intercepting two passes and deflecting 12 others.

According to Pro Football Focus, Williams surrendered a 58.4 passer rating when targeted in 2017, including a 28.1 rating when targeted at least 20 yards down the field and a 1.0 passer rating when targeted in man coverage.

It's a similar script to Williams' success in Green Bay. From when he began starting a handful of games in 2008 through his departure from the team after the 2014 campaign, only two cornerbacks had more interceptions than Williams (27): Asante Samuel (29) and Charles Woodson (31), who spent five of those years as Williams' teammate.

The Packers paid the two-year, $10 million dollar deal this offseason for Williams' veteran presence and for his abilities, not for nostalgia purposes. If he can play even a fraction as well as he did in Arizona or either one of those antecedent years in Green Bay, that's an immediate boost to an otherwise mostly inexperienced unit.

At 35, it's mostly about reacting on instinct and knowing when things are going to happen and how plays are going to unfold, rather than relying on his pure athletic ability like Williams once did as a spry 27-year-old to seal a Wild Card victory over Michael Vick's Philadelphia Eagles.

"Experience, man. Experience," Williams said. "You see different things over time and you just understand what you're going to get. And young guys don't understand that right now. They're making plays and they're making plays because they're talented, but they're not making plays because they know what's going on.

"When you know what's going on, it becomes a lot easier and that's really where I'm at right now."


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

mamasboy's picture

Should have gotten rid of Capers and brought Tramon back A LOT SOONER than we did.

dblbogey's picture

My main criticism of McCarthy is keeping Slocum 3 years too long as special teams coach and keeping Capers 3-4 years too long. It was so obvious it needed to be done, it was frustrating.

Slim11's picture

MM is well-known for loyalty to his assistant coaches. Said loyalty can become a detriment as we all know from watching Slocum, then Capers out last their welcomes.

A couple of years ago, SI printed an article saying this same thing. One of the main criticisms was the loyalty MM displays.

Nick Perry's picture

You would have thought McCarthy would have learned from the Slocum experience with Capers but he didn't. Loyalty is an admirable trait EXCEPT in Football. Loyalty in Football generally means you're letting someone stay longer than they should have.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"You don’t want guys thinking when they’re out on the field. You want guys to be playing, and I feel that’s what guys are doing right now"


PAPackerbacker's picture

Tramon Williams is an invaluable addition to the Packers secondary. With a young but talented secondary and the skills and experience of a veteran like Tramon teaching them, I can see the Packer defense improving tremendously and finishing in the top 10. Just his presence on the field alone will make the younger players compete to try and achieve the success that Tramon brings to the team. Go! Pack! Go!

Oppy's picture

I just flat out like Tramon Williams. From the minute he arrived, he put his personality on display. His play only strengthened my fondness for him. My favorite modern era packer, I feel Williams is deserving of the kind of appreciation that Donald Driver had always received from the fans.

Rak47's picture

Who knows how long Tramon can play at a high level. Look at Terrence Newman he's still playing CB as recently as last season at the age of 41. Darrell Green played well into his early 40's as well.

Nick Perry's picture

I've said in previous posts signing Williams will probably prove to be the smartest FA signing by Gutekunst this season. Graham will probably have enormous stats and Wilkerson will probably prove to be some of the best spent $5 million the Packers could have possibly spent, but Williams IMHO will prove to be the best....And that was even before they drafted 2 more CB's in this last draft.

We've heard that King has been in Williams back pocket and I can only hope Alexander and Jackson follow suit. Williams was an All-Pro CB who did it the right way in GB. Not only can he help teach the youngsters how to play the CB in Pettines scheme. But he can also teach these youngsters how to be a Pro in Green Bay.

At 21 years old it has to be a bit of a shock to be in Green Bay. No big city lights, no night clubs (Not Really), no vast variety of fine dinning restaurants or specialty shops to expand their wardrobes. This may sound absurd but I promise you those things are important to newly made millionaires who are 21 years old. Williams can help with that. He can help these youngsters adjust to life in Green Bay and help teach them to focus on what's important for those 6 or 7 months a year come July. Who's better than Williams to show King, Alexander, and Jackson than Williams?

PatrickGB's picture

When we first brought in Williams I thought we were getting a borderline washed up player. Boy oh boy I am so glad that I am wrong! Witt when comparing players often referred to them in comparison to Williams. It was his standard. I don’t know if Williams can still play as well as he has in the past but he sure will play better than the players we have been struggling with since he left.

HankScorpio's picture

Tramon Williams carries himself like you want a pro football player to carry himself. Worst case scenario, he sets an example of professionalism for King, Alexander and Jackson. If those 3 approach the job like Williams has for his career, the Packers should be in pretty good shape at CB.

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