GREEN BAY—More than a decade ago, when Tramon Williams was ruling the roost at Assumption High School in Napoleonville, La., he was often closely trailed by a grade-school cousin who looked up to the prep football star.
That younger cousin is all grown up now and just may look to knock Williams on his rear end Monday night at Lambeau Field.
Bears rookie right tackle Jordan Mills, at 6-5, 316 pounds and seven years Williams' junior, now dwarfs the 5-11, 191-pound Packers cornerback.
The shift in the mental picture is startling, considering what Williams remembers from back in Louisiana, which was hanging out with a much closer cousin and teammate, O'Neal Mills, who regularly had this little tike of a brother, Jordan, in tow.
"He just grew so fast," Williams said. "He got so big, and he's good at it. His brother was a linebacker and a tight end, and he's an O-lineman, so he grew bigger than all of us."
Jordan Mills followed in Williams' footsteps to college at Louisiana Tech, and he was drafted in the fifth round by Chicago this past spring.
Mills tapped Williams for advice to get his pro career started right. An undrafted free agent who got into the NFL the hard way and paid his dues on special teams before becoming a starter and eventually a Pro Bowler, Williams is worth listening to.
"He basically told me it's not easy. It's going to be hard," Mills said. "You've just got to work hard every day, listen to the veterans around you, and if a coach (says) you did something right, find a way to do it even better. Having that advice from him was great."
Mills made a strong first impression, winning the right tackle job in training camp and becoming part of the Bears' makeover of the right side of their offensive line. Chicago drafted guard Kyle Long in the first round, and the two rookies have lined up next to one another in every Bears game this season.
Mills obviously has begun his career with much more fanfare than did Williams, who was cut by Houston as a rookie and latched onto Green Bay's practice squad toward the end of the 2006 season.
If Williams' words of wisdom helped in any way, that's fine by him, but he's not about to take any credit away from the hard-working Mills.
"I'm not going to say I'm surprised at all," Williams said. "With Chicago, if you talk to a lot of people, their line was one of the big parts that they felt needed adjustment. They got a couple of rookies who came in and seem to have solidified that spot for them.
"It's great to see the success he's having and the expectations that Chicago has for him."
Come Monday night, there's no guarantee Mills will get to use his 125-pound advantage to throw a block on his cousin Williams downfield, but it could happen.
Either way, a postgame picture with the two standing next to one another now is a must.
"To go against your family is priceless, but when we get on the field I'm a Chicago Bear and he's a Packer and the family has to be put aside," Mills said. "I know he thinks the same way. It's going to be fun to play against him, but if I get a chance to get after him I'm going to get after him." Additional coverage - Nov. 1