GREEN BAY – Anyone who thought Jamaal Williams' frequent dancing was his way of showing excitement learned something this past Sunday.
The Packers running back has a whole 'nother energy level.
It was on display within five snaps in the Houston game when Williams caught a pass on a shallow crossing route, picked up 17 yards, and then got his helmet knocked off by an illegal hit from Texans safety Justin Reid.
Williams proceeded to scream, gyrate and flail his hair wildly, making every local and national highlight reel in the process. It was the play Head Coach Matt LaFleur said "really got us going."
The big gain on their opening drive not only moved the Packers into scoring range (with the 15-yard penalty tacked on), it also set the tone for a productive day as the fourth-year pro took on a larger share of the load in the absence of his good friend Aaron Jones.
"When you know you're going to get more touches and stuff, of course you're excited and you're ready to go," said Williams, explaining he tries to stay "mellow" until the action really starts.
"I like to keep my excitement inside because I get excited too easily and quick. So I try to keep it more until it's game time when I get on the field to express how I feel."
Admittedly "sad" his backfield mate had to miss the game due to a calf injury, Williams made sure the Packers' offense didn't miss Jones in its bounce-back performance.
Williams rushed 19 times for 77 yards and caught four passes for 37 more, with the 114 yards from scrimmage marking a season best and his eight career combined 100-yard effort. The 23 touches were also a season high by almost 50% (he had 16 vs. Atlanta) and the most he's had in a game since the final week of his rookie season in 2017.
He emerged no worse for wear – "Especially when you win, it helps you get past the soreness quickly," he said – no doubt in part due to the extensive offseason conditioning work he put in. He reported to training camp a tad trimmer, which has shown up in his speed and explosiveness, and he developed his route-running along the way, too.
The complete package he brings has prompted LaFleur, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and others to express the utmost confidence in Williams performing any role or handling any workload required.
With the Packers playing two games in a span of five days, Sunday vs. Minnesota and then next Thursday night at San Francisco, and with calf injuries always tricky, there's no telling how the backfield duties between Jones, Williams and rookie AJ Dillon will be divvied up in the near future here.
Like Jones, as a 2017 draftee Williams is in a contract year, and it would seem unlikely both would be back on second deals with a second-round pick in Dillon in the fold. Anything he can do in Jones' stead should only help him with whatever unfolds in the offseason, and while he's not naïve to that, his approach is to focus on the present and let the present take care of the future.
"It's always next man up and I'm really just taking every opportunity I can to show I can be a starting running back, and I can show my potential and everything that I have to put on the field for the team," he said. "I'm just trying to make sure that we come out with the 'dub' and be productive every time I touch the ball."
He capped his strong day in Houston with a game-long 13-yard run in the red zone late in the fourth quarter to set up his own 1-yard touchdown, his first of the season. After scoring 15 total TDs in his first three seasons (eight rushing, seven receiving), it felt like a long time coming.
"Oh, most definitely. I've been waiting on a touchdown forever," he said. "It just shows the grind. I love the grind, I love wearing down defenses from first quarter to fourth quarter and really just showing that mental strength we have as a team."
Williams showed how fired up he was to score with another demonstrative celebration (helmet on this time) after being tackled at the 1. He practically walked untouched into the end zone on the next snap, and the satisfying TD prompted a typical Williams dance.
However he chooses to celebrate, the Packers will take the production. They've come to count on it, and everything else that comes along with it.
"I love the energy and juice that he brings to our football team," LaFleur said. "It's infectious.
"He loves to play, he loves to complete. That's who he is. Every time we step out on that field, he brings it."