GREEN BAY – Jamaal Williams was like every other Packers fan watching Aaron Jones carve his name into the record books with a four-touchdown performance in Dallas on Sunday.
Enthusiastic, to say the least.
"I lost my voice after the game," Williams said. "I was like, 'Man, I was really yelling out there.'"
Of course, Williams wanted to be out there with his close friend, but the Packers' third-year running back was still working his way through the NFL concussion protocol after enduring a jarring hit a week earlier against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The helmet-to-helmet collision with defensive end Derek Barnett resulted in Williams being carted off the field and staying overnight at a local Green Bay hospital for observation.
As scary as the incident may have appeared, Williams was back at the Lambeau Field facilities the next day and interacting with teammates like nothing had happened. On Thursday, two weeks removed from the Eagles game, Williams was cleared from the protocol and given the green light to practice in full.
As much as he appreciates all the well wishes, Williams has been somewhat taken aback by all the attention he's received.
"I've been having a lot of people come up to me and be like, 'I'm just glad you're walking,'" Williams said. "I don't even know what people are talking about. It's just a regular day for me. I've seen the hit but … I looked like a fish out there."
Williams doesn't remember the play, but came to pretty quickly thereafter. After watching the film, Williams said he doesn't hold any ill will against Barnett for the hit. "It's football. It's what I signed up to play," he said.
In the aftermath of the hit, Williams was appreciative of the teammates and coaches who visited him in the hospital, including Jones, fullback Danny Vitale and position coach Ben Sirmans.
Williams expressed his gratitude to those individuals as only he can while talking with reporters in the locker room after Thursday's practice.
"I expect them (to). (If) they didn't come, they ain't getting nothing for Christmas," Williams deadpanned. "Nah, I'm just grateful my team; they cared for me. That's just what shows about this team, like how much we've grown so much now we really care for each other, and maybe show that everybody is OK and you're really a team out here."
Going into the Philadelphia game, Williams was coming off his best game of the season in Week 3 against Denver, in which he had 12 carries for 59 yards and two catches for 27 yards.
Williams said "it's an experience I don't want to go through again," but mainly because he doesn't "want to miss games." Right now, all of his focus is on this upcoming Monday night when the Packers welcome the Lions to Lambeau Field.
Should he play, Williams plans to run with the same power and toughness he's displayed his entire career.
"You can't be scared playing football," Williams said. "I got the green light so I'm good. I'm going to go out there and play like ain't nothing happened. That's how you're supposed to play. I'm not going to change the way I play."
The Packers are excited about the prospects of returning the 6-foot, 214-pound running back to the lineup. In Williams' absence, Jones has played 118 of the Packers' 155 offensive snaps (76.1%) with 45 touches for 240 total yards and five touchdowns.
All offseason, Head Coach Matt LaFleur centered his plans for the Packers' backfield on the tandem of Jones and Williams. The two even lined up together in the backfield of a shotgun formation with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the opening play in which Williams was injured.
Feeling good after his first practice back, Williams is just excited to be back on the field and ready to put the fiasco with Barnett behind him.
"I'm just grateful for the plan that God has for me," Williams said. "You just don't know what type of things are going to come into your life and what type of obstacles you're going to have. It's just one I couldn't avoid at the time."