GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Packers cornerback Tramon Williams keeps making big impressions with his coaches, and his development bodes well for a franchise that’s been missing depth at the position.
With cornerback Al Harris still on the physically unable to perform list following knee surgery, Williams has made his mark opposite reigning NFL defensive player of the year Charles Woodson.
It led Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt to say Williams is the team’s best player in coverage.
“There’s nobody in the league that he doesn’t think he can cover,” Whitt said. “He really has developed into a guy that (says), ‘Hey, you give me a guy, I can cover him.’ Now, is he going to shut everybody down? No. There’s nobody in the league that will. But hey, I’ll take my chances with Tramon on anybody.”
Next up on Sunday will be the New York Jets and a wide receiver group that includes Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith.
Williams more than held his own against Randy Moss and Percy Harvin. The two Minnesota receivers combined for eight receptions and 95 yards last week, while Williams played all but four snaps.
“It’s one of those things that the coaches always want to see how you’re going to react against a big name guy,” Williams said. “I don’t see it as anything big. I’m just out there trying to do my job.”
Harris’ misfortune gave Williams more than just a nickel cornerback role, and coach Mike McCarthy said he uses Williams as a top example of a team overcoming injuries.
“Tramon is a little bit of your poster child for us. He is a young man that came here, was given an opportunity, and he has just worked from the first day he arrived and continues to do so. He is a tremendous professional,” McCarthy said. “He is very detailed in his preparation, and he is playing at a very, very high level right now.”
Williams, who wasn’t drafted in 2006 out of Louisiana Tech, accepted a restricted free agent tender instead of holding out for a long-term deal and is making just over $3 million this season. He said his contract was never a factor in his decision-making process this year.
“It’s not about contract things, it’s about me coming in and playing,” Williams said. “I know I have a job to do, I’m a part of this team, this team is my family. I’m not worrying about that type of stuff.”
Williams almost wasn’t even a football player at all. He initially enrolled at the college that’s about five hours northwest of his hometown of Napoleonville, La. as a non-athlete and pursued a degree in electrical engineering.
But he wanted to play again after attending a game his freshman year and walked on the following spring. He earned two degrees in the process — one in sociology and the other in computer information systems.
With the Packers, he’s had to learn quickly and says the experience after taking over for Harris last season has helped him. It’s been tough to imagine him out of the lineup with his 28 tackles, two interceptions, a sack, a fumble recovery and nine passes defended. He also is averaging 9.1 yards per punt return.
His biggest flaw was in his tackling, but Whitt said he keeps improving.
“Some of it’s want-to. A lot of guys (say), ‘I’m a cover corner.’ No. You have to come and tackle,” Whitt said. “It’s fundamentally simple, but he wasn’t doing those things last year and he’s doing them this year.”
Williams acknowledges he’s comfortable with the speed of the game now, and that his increased playing time helped him develop at a quicker pace.
“I think the more you’re around the game, the more you realize what people are trying to do to you, what they’re doing,” Williams said. “It comes down to you break down all the teams and you see a lot of the same things that all teams do and it makes your preparation that much easier.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.