Notebook: Young Williams Shows His Skills

DETROIT - Tramon Williams is a player thankful just to have a roster spot and special teams role with the Green Bay Packers. On Thanksgiving Day, Williams showed how much more he can be. - More | Audio | Video | Packers-Lions Game Center


Green Bay's Tramon Williams tackles Detroit kick returner Aveion Cason on one of his runbacks Thursday.

DETROIT - Tramon Williams is a player thankful just to have a roster spot and special teams role with the Green Bay Packers.

On Thanksgiving Day, Williams showed how much more he can be.

The first-year cornerback and return man had a big impact both on special teams and on defense on Thursday at Ford Field, with his presence playing a big part in Green Bay's 37-26 victory.

For starters, Williams entered the game as the fourth cornerback in the dime defense early in the second quarter when cornerback Charles Woodson left with a toe injury. The Packers began the game with Frank Walker playing the dime spot as the sixth defensive back, but Woodson's departure moved regular nickelback Jarrett Bush up to the No. 2 corner, Walker up to the nickel slot, and Williams to the dime back.

He made an impact almost immediately, reaching around rookie receiver Calvin Johnson to swat away a pass on third-and-5 from the Green Bay 39-yard line. The incompletion kept the Lions out of field-goal range and forced them to punt.

Then, just after the Packers had taken a 14-9 lead, Detroit's Aveion Cason got loose on the ensuing kickoff return and appeared to have only kicker Mason Crosby to beat down the far sideline. But Williams showed an impressive burst to run him down from behind, tackling him on the Green Bay 24, which ultimately forced Detroit to kick a field goal.

"I just got on my horse and got after him," Williams said. "(My teammates) said they didn't think I could run like that. I've never really shown my speed like that."

Back in as the dime back, Williams had one more big third-down stop before the end of the half. Detroit had crossed midfield again and faced third-and-2 on the Green Bay 46 when Jon Kitna tried to go deep down the far sideline to Johnson. The 6-foot-5 receiver went up for the ball, but Williams timed his hit perfectly to prevent the catch, forcing another Lions punt.

For a non-drafted player to go one-on-one with the No. 2 overall pick in this past April's draft, as Johnson was, and make a couple of plays was especially gratifying.

"I prepared for it all week," Williams said. "That's how I prepare every week because anybody can do down, just like what happened. I was in there to do my duty."

All this came just four days after Williams scored his first NFL touchdown, returning a Carolina pooch punt 94 yards for a score last Sunday at Lambeau Field.

He added a 33-yard kickoff return on Thursday, but it was his play in his first extended action at defensive back that showed how far Williams has come from being a 2006 practice-squad player and a longshot who made the team out of training camp this summer.

"It felt great, definitely a confidence builder," Williams said of his productive day. "I'm just going to continue building on it, continue working hard in practice, doing whatever the coaches want of me. I'm just going to continue playing and hopefully get more opportunities."

Almost to the house

The Packers nearly had their second punt return for a touchdown in as many games. Late in the first quarter, Woodson fielded a Detroit punt at his own 12-yard line, weaved his way through traffic and broke to the right side with some space in front of him.

All the Packers needed to do was block former University of Wisconsin linebacker Alex Lewis, and Woodson had clear sailing up the right sideline. At least three players had a chance to block Lewis, including A.J. Hawk and Bush, but it appeared they were looking for other Lions to block instead, and Lewis caught Woodson from behind after a 34-yard return.

Woodson injured his toe on the return, getting it bent all the way back, and he left the game. Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn't have an update on how serious the injury was. Woodson told reporters that it was painful, but he was hoping it wasn't something that would "last too long."

Moving up the charts

With his 10 catches for 147 yards on Thursday, Donald Driver moved into fifth place on the Packers' all-time list for receiving yards, surpassing Antonio Freeman.

Driver eclipsed Freeman's 6,651 receiving yards with a 38-yard reception over the middle in the second quarter, after which he took a vicious hit while struggling for extra yards, but stayed in the game.

Driver now has 6,761 receiving yards for his career, all with the Packers. Next on the list is Boyd Dowler, who is in fourth place at 6,918 yards.

Shutdown corner

Cornerback Al Harris was matched up against Detroit's leading receiver, Roy Wiliams, one-on-one for most of the game and like he did at Lambeau Field last December, Harris essentially shut Williams down.

{sportsad300}Williams had just three catches for 32 yards on Thursday, and one of those (for 5 yards) didn't even come against Harris. Williams' only catch of consequence against Harris came early in the fourth quarter on a 19-yard gain over the middle. Harris tackled Williams by the facemask and the penalty gave Detroit a first-and-goal on the 2.

But that was really all the noise made by Williams, who came into the game seventh in the NFC in receiving yards with 719 on 55 catches, with five touchdowns. Harris ended the game in fitting fashion, breaking up a deep pass over the middle on fourth down intended for Williams, giving the ball back to the Packers to kneel down and run out the clock.

The effort was similar to the second matchup with Detroit last season, when Harris had an interception and held Williams to just one catch for 11 yards. The first time the Packers faced the Lions last year, several different defenders were used against Williams, and he had a big day with seven catches for 138 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown.


Middle linebacker Nick Barnett led the defense with eight total tackles, including four solo. The four solo give Barnett exactly 500 solo tackles in his five-year career.

Injury update

In addition to Woodson (toe), injuries were reported involving defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (ankle), safety Aaron Rouse (knee), and defensive tackle Colin Cole (forearm fracture).

After the game, McCarthy didn't have any information on how serious any of them were, though Cole's would appear to be significant.

Receiver Donald Driver also tweaked an ankle late in the game but finished and said after the game he's fine. Right tackle Mark Tauscher, who has been battling an ankle injury in the past two games, sat out a portion of the fourth quarter and was replaced by Tony Moll, a decision McCarthy said he made because of the lead the Packers had.

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