Will Tramon Williams return to 2010 form?

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Packers CB Tramon Williams
Packers CB Tramon Williams

Coming off a memorable postseason in 2010, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams suffered a serious shoulder injury in the first game of 2011 that still hasn’t fully healed.

A year earlier, in the Packers’ run to Super Bowl XLV, Williams emerged as one of the top cover corners in football.

That season, Williams started all 16 games for the first time in his career. He intercepted a career-high six passes in the regular season and picked off another three balls in the playoffs.

At that point, ProFootballFocus ranked Williams No. 7 among the 69 cornerbacks that played at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps. This past season, Williams came in at No. 43 among 71 players at the position.

The shoulder injury has certainly played a part in Williams’ performance the past two seasons.

“I had some tears in my shoulder and I had nerve damage in my shoulder, and it was tough,” Williams told 107.5 The Fan in March. “I only missed one game because of it, but it should have been one of those things to where I should have sat down for quite a few games. But at the same time, I haven’t been hurt at any point in my career … Everyone goes through adversity at some point in their career — that was one of my points, and I got through it.”

Williams didn’t appear on the injury report in 2012 because he never considered missing any game action, according to ProFootballTalk. But the lingering shoulder issue has prevented Williams from being the physical impact corner he was before the injury.

“It was kind of hard to sit back, because when you’re off, you’re kind of giving away some throws,” Williams said. “You don’t want to give up anything. So you have to kind of compensate your game for the injury, but like I said, I got through it and just continue to progress. I had nerve damage, so that’s one thing that takes time. It could be a year, it could be two years to come back. And it’s made progress, but it’s still coming. So it’s one of those deals to where my shoulder’s still getting better at this point. I’m still working on it and hopefully it comes all the way back this year.”

If Williams can get his shoulder back to 100 percent, the Packers’ pass defense will likely improve as a whole. But healthy or not, Williams will be pushed by a deep group of young cornerbacks this offseason.

Casey Hayward, a second-round pick in 2012, led the team with six interceptions last year, while Sam Shields bounced back from a tough sophomore campaign in 2011 and had a terrific third season. Davon House never became an every-week for the Packers in 2012, but he was among the most impressive players on the roster throughout training camp.

A shoulder injury in the preseason opener prevented House from hitting his stride until midseason. But from Week 8 to Week 12, House played 83.8 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

Shields, House and Hayward are all capable of locking down receivers on the perimeter, but Hayward is the best of the bunch in the slot. Of the top four players at the position, Williams is likely still the most well-rounded player, but at 30 years old, one has to wonder if he’s entering the twilight of his career.

In this week’s AllGBP podcast on Packers Talk Radio Network, which will be posted soon, Jason Perone, Kris Burke and I spoke about the Packers’ depth at cornerback. And if Williams wants to remain an integral part of the defense, he’s going to have to earn his playing time with a trio of up-and-comers behind him.

Williams certainly wasn’t dominant in 2012, but he showed some flashes of his 2010 form.

In Week 2 against the Chicago Bears, Williams and safety Morgan Burnett worked together to hold Bears receiver Brandon Marshall to just two receptions for 24 yards. Williams, himself, caught two Jay Cutler passes–his only two interceptions of the season.

On the other hand, Williams didn’t show much improvement as a tackler after the 2011 season in which he missed a whopping 16 tackles, according to PFF. A willingness to tackle is a strength of House, so despite being the elder statesman, Williams will have a lot to prove in the physicality department throughout the summer.

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. has said throughout the offseason that there will be an open competition at the position this season.

“The group is going to be very competitive moving forward,” Whitt said, according to Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee. “We have a number of guys that it’s going to be interesting who the guys are going to be that run out there Day 1. Because right now, I couldn’t tell you who’s going to do what because of the way that Sam and Casey have played. With Tramon and House there, there are four guys that are vying for two spots, maybe three with nickel. It’ll be interesting to see who gets them.”

Interesting, indeed.


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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


28 thoughts on “Will Tramon Williams return to 2010 form?

  1. It’s been pretty common to throw Tramon under the bus since he got his contract and shortly thereafter, his shoulder injury. But he makes a great point about never having been injured before and playing through the injury, even if it diminished his effectiveness.

    It also raises an interesting question to consider – Would the Packers have been better off if he had sat during the ‘peak’ of his recovery from the injury? Was there someone on the roster who might have raised his game, much as Williams himself did in 2010, and provided the Packers not only time for Willaims to fully recover, but game playing time for another gem in the making?

    If he was in those games by necessity, does at least a portion of the blame go back to Packer brass for not having an adequate back up?

    Lot’s of questions, but only one real answer. With Wood’s skills and Shields both absent, the Packers need the 2010 version of Tramon.

    1. I think Tramon benefitted in 2010 from a variety of factors: a really good CB playing on the other side, a supporting cast that could get after the QB, and an offense that could run the ball a little more and keep the defense a little fresher.

      In the long run, I’m not all that convinced that we’ve seen exactly what Tramon is: a decent pro CB who isn’t super physical. Maybe his shoulder held him back…maybe not. He got a big contract and people want him to be a shutdown CB. I just don’t think that’s what he is.

      He’ll look a whole lot better–even if he doesn’t play much differently–if the 2013 version of the Packer DL is much more consistent at getting to all QBs, including those not named Jay Cutler.

      1. Apparently you didn’t wstch in ’10. Tramon a physical player, a willing tackler and a shutdown CB who took the #1 WR every game. Others benefitted from him as much if not more then he from them. The shoulder clearly and dramatically affected his play.

        If he doesn’t return to near peak form this year he could lose his starting job get asked to take a pay cut or get released. Can’t carry an inflated salary for performance much lower past this year. Probably same for Hawk after this year.

        1. I agree with Stroh for once. In 2010 Tramon was an all around great player.

          1. If Tramon returns to 2010 form then the “D” will be top 10. Having 4 guys fighting for 3 spots isn’t a bad place to be. If House can put it together this year, I think Tramon is gone either way. If he is good then TT will trade him and if not good TT will cut him. Wasn’t he a UDFA?

            1. If Tramon returns to form he’ll be a Packer for awhile longer. CB are very valuable. And he wouldn’t bring the return to make it worth a trade IMO.

          2. …But not in 2011 or 2012 (when he supposed to have been recovered from injury)

    2. While yes, it’s become fashionable to hate on Tramon, two things:

      1. Not having Nick Collins gave Tramon (and other CBs) an ability to gamble for picks and things of that nature. When you have a caliber of player that Collins was, it makes everyone else around him better, as hackney as that sounds. Collins forced opposing QBs to take their attack to the edges or for check downs because if you tried to squeeze something in there, he’d make you pay or give you a hit to make you think about crossing the field again.

      2. Saying Tramon’s performance was diminished purely because of his shoulder is bad apologetics. He played soft coverage, didn’t recognize routes, and let nearly every WR in the NFL get into his head. Those are all easily avoidable mental mistakes. I can’t remember which game it was but he got lost a simple combo route and the guy tore off for a big first down.

      If he’s still injured, sit him on the bench. Here’s where NFL loyalty and foolishness make the team worse. I’m sure coaches don’t want to bench him and have him lose his job or whatever rationale they have but his tackling was just as horrid in 2012 as it was in 2011. Oh and then he’d get mouthy when he’d get bulldozed by some WR or TE.

      I like Tramon but I think that he’s starting to become a lot like Al Harris in his later years. People just don’t want to face the music.

      P.S. Don’t sleep on House.

  2. IF Tramon gets back to 100%. IF McMillan and Burnett take the next step. IF Perry can make the transition to OLB. IF Bishop can come back 100% healthy. IF Raji/Jones/Neal (and eventually Worthy) can put consistent pressure on the QB and keep those RB lanes shut down…

    Then the Packers D will be dominant. But that’s a lot of ‘ifs’.

    I’d bet about 1/2 of those ‘ifs’ come through, and GB’s D is slightly above middle of the road again. Which, with ARod at QB, might be enough to win it all again.

  3. He does keep getting thrown under the bus. I don’t believe is warranted, he may have had a few bad games here and there since 2010 due to injury. In my opinion, until the the front line can generate the consistent pressure on the QB like they did in 2010 the secondary will suffer. Most secondaries will if the QB has all day to throw. ALot of balls thrown at him were under thrown that year.

  4. Will he return to 2010 form? No. In 2010 he was in the prime of his career, now he’s three years older. He was also pre-injury, which for all we know will never fully go away(remember last year at the beginning of the year, he said he was 100%. Now he says otherwise). I do believe regarding his injury, he’s much better off than when it first occurred, but with the wear and tear and added age I don’t see why he’d be as good. Plus, I believe he extended late in the 2010 season and doesn’t have the $ motivation he did then either.

    Despite all that, I still think he can be a very effective CB. I thought in 2010 it was between him and Bishop as to who was the second best player on the D. I think he has a lot of pride and is a good character guy. He will never get back to where he was in 2010, but if can press cover more, he can still be very good.

    1. “Will he return to (year x) form? No. In (year x) he was in the prime of his career, now he’s three years older. He was also pre-injury, which for all we know will never fully go away”

      …This is exactly what people were saying about Charles Woodson when he was a free agent in 2006…

      Not comparing Tramon to Charles, just saying you can’t just wholesale discount talent because of aging and an injury. You never know.

  5. If he does not return to form he will probably get cut. For my money he was the best CB in the NFL for much of 2010. He has had the injury and it has affected him. But Tramon was a guy that in 2010 seemed to know what the offense was doing. Has the contract and security made him feel comfortable and prepare less? I have no idea. If he was standing in front of me I would not even suggest it, but i am behind a computer screen so I will bring it up.

    Big contracts can change players. Not everyone loves football. Some guys play for money. And there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you prepare just like you are hoping to get your big contract. He just did not look like the same guy the last two years. He looks like he is reacting instead of anticipating. The only answer I can think of is preperation. On and off the field. His technique was just awful much of last year as well. Looked lazy.

    To say that Tramon has had a couple bad games as one commenter stated is a gross understatement. He was the third best corner on the team for much of last year. That is a fact. With CM3 and ARod under contract now the Packers cannot afford to hold onto players that are underperforming.

    I am a Tramon fan, but something has got to give. Either the play improves or the packers cannot afford to keep. That is the cold side of the NFL. he played through an injury and everyone can respect that and love that. but it has been two years since the injury. another year of less than average play means he will be with another team in 2014.

    1. If you’re saying that Tramon was third behind Shields and Hayward, maybe. But remember that the slot corner has very different responsibilities from the guys who play outside. I don’t believe Hayward would have shown nearly as well out there. So it’s apples and oranges, to a degree.

    2. I have stated throughout last season that to my eyes, Tramon had been playing much softer coverage than ever before, and I theorized the reason was the lack of a consistent, stellar player in Nick Collins behind him.

      Having a player you can trust to be on assignment with the range Collins had, playing deep, can give an aggressive corner like Tramon the green light to play his game- tight, aggressive, pestering coverage with the confidence to trust your eyes and preparation and jump tight routes without fear of giving up a game-changing TD. To me, this lack of confidence in safety play had led Tramon to play very soft coverage, giving WR’s a much bigger cushion than he had in 2010, and by doing so allowed more completions.

      From Tramon’s own words, he WAS playing off more than usual, but not because of lack of trust in his safety help, but due to the shoulder. I still have to think not having Nick behind him played into it somewhat, but if Tramon is being honest- it was the shoulder that caused him to give WR’s far more cushion than normal- and his should has made vast improvement, I can only hope/assume he should be playing at a much higher level this season than he has in the last two.

      Let’s hope for any kind of improvement more towards that 2010 season.. You can’t fake that kind of talent. Even if you take away the picks, his coverage was excellent.

      For those who say Wood’s presence made Tramon look better, I scoff. That would expose a lesser corner, not inflate him- QB’s would target the side of the field opposite Woodson. Also of note, Charles Woodson himself publicly stated more than once that a big part of his resurgence in Green Bay was due to the fact that Tramon actually FORCED qb’s to throw towards Charles’ side of the field.

  6. Reply number five is the only one I agree with. He was never in the top five as far as CB’s are concerned. He is a pathetic tackler, lacks high-end speed, and as of the last two seasons has been a below average CB. Right now he is the weak link in the secondary along with the 2nd safety behind Burnett. My prediction is he will either be cut, traded or take a substantial pay cut to stay with the team. The article about him replacing Woodson as leader of the defense was a joke. He has never been anywhere near being a leader of the defense nor any part of it. I believe he is toast, cut him.

  7. No, Tramon Williams will never be the player he used to be and the Packers know it.

  8. Tramon may end up being one of those protect his pride cuts. He may only prove to be the 4th best cb, but how can a team ask him to go from starter to 4th string with that salary? It’s a rarity. GB would then likely cut him, as a business move first and foremost, but also to show him respect and help him keep his dignity. I hope TT learned his lesson from the roster spot DD took up last year.

    1. Right on the money…Driver should have been asked to retire last year. He was severly outplayed in preseason by Gurley, Borel, Boykin and should have been cut. His production was pathetic and we lost a rookie who may have helped the team and developed into a stud. This may be why we drafted the DB-Hyde out of Iowa. TW is done-release him now.

  9. I used to be Tramon’s #1 fan but now I feel like most – either he plays up to his contract or bye-bye. He may never again be the CB he was prior to his contract. I don’t know if it is the injury or the contract. His form looked bad to me last year and he obviously was unwilling to tackle anybody. Too bad because for one year he was really something.

    1. You mean he never again be the CB he was prior to the injury! The contract has nothing to do w/ his play declining. Its all related to his injured Shoulder!

  10. Watching him try NOT to tackle AP in week 17 was disgusting. If you’re going to do that you’re too injured to play.

    Theres been talk about guys resting on their reputations since the Super Bowl and Tramon is the most prime suspect. I just don’t see the effort.

  11. Have to say I’m kind of offended by people saying Tramon is resting on his laurels due to contract or the SB. The man has been playing w/ an injured shoulder! It sucks that its gone on so long, but nerves are tricky. They can regain strength in a month, a year or never. Clearly Tramon’s shoulder has not ever gotten back to full strength. Cut the guy a little slack for gods sake! He has continued to play w/ a shoulder that’s not 100%, all the while continuing to match up w/ the opponents #1 WR every week! Would like to see how some of you would try to tackle AP with a bad shoulder.

    Its not like the Packers has better proven CB during that time. I got frustrated he had problems, but I just don’t see him resting on his laurels or slacking.

    1. As a person, yes…sympathy, cutting of slack, etc. But as a player, not a bit. If he’s on the field, he’s gotta make plays.

  12. 90% of Tramon’s return to excellence is going to be mental. Watching his tentativeness when trying to hold the corner on running plays was disturbing. He has to thow himself into the plays with reckless abandon once again. If he can do that, he’ll probably return to a much higher level of play ad ecome a major contributor once again..

  13. In ’10 SB season, Williams played lights out expecting a new contract. With his injury in ’11 season, he has NOT been the same player and it’s NOT playing soft coverage. Packers fans–YOU can’t see “Chicken” Williams dodging, ducking and waving the white flag against Vikings and APeterson and think Williams was anything but pathetic on defense. His coverage has been soft-but when TE’s or RB’s like Peterson came his way, at most they got a shove or a wave at the ankles, Williams refused to get physical. During the FIRST Vikings game earlier in season–YOU can hear Vikings players laughing and joking with Peterson on sidelines–“38” “is SCARED TO TACKLE” AP, and if you watch the season end game and playoff game-YOU will notice they ran at Williams at every opportunity! Can’t be successful with a player not willing to make tackles or get physical with ball carriers coming his way. Expect TW to be gone from Pack if he doesn’t prove different.

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