GREEN BAY – Back in January of 2011, when Tramon Williams was intercepting three passes in the Packers’ first two playoff games on the road to a Super Bowl XLV title, his son, Tramon Jr., was just a few months old.
Williams’ namesake will turn 9 this fall, and his daughter, Trinity, recently turned 7, which puts the whole dynamic between a football-playing father and his kids in an entirely different place, and Williams absolutely cherishes where it’s at.
That’s not the only thing motivating the 36-year-old defensive back to keep going in what’s about to be his 13th NFL season, but it’s definitely part of it.
“My little boy really now understands the game of football, and he loves it,” Williams said following a recent OTA practice. “When they were younger, they may watch you but they really don’t understand it. But now he really understands it, understands what I’m doing. He has his inputs on the game.
“That’s priceless stuff right there, that your kids can remember what they did, where they were, what you were doing for this game.”
What exactly Williams will be doing in 2019 – after spending 2018 at cornerback, safety, return man, and anywhere else he was needed – remains to be seen.
The position he knows and plays best is corner, and he’d like to settle in there for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, however the roles shake out at the position amongst young up-and-comers Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Josh Jackson.
The Packers rebuilt the safety position in the offseason with the signing of Adrian Amos and drafting of Darnell Savage, but now the absence of third-year pro Josh Jones from OTAs leaves the depth chart there uncertain.
Williams would never squawk about filling in wherever called upon, and his knowledge of Pettine’s scheme from playing for him with the Browns has proven valuable. But for however many games or years he has left, Williams would like to focus on his preferred spot.
“I’m here, and right now I’m at corner,” he said, which can mean boundary or slot for him. “Obviously things change throughout the season, so I don’t ever want to limit myself. I’ve always been a team-first guy, whether I want to do something or not.
“I’m at corner right now, expect to play corner. But I understand things happen, and when things happen, I’m always open-minded.”
The Packers practiced inside the Don Hutson Center on Wednesday for voluntary minicamp.
Last year was the first of Williams’ impressive career without an interception, and while he’d never use it as an excuse, all the moving around and changing assignments almost certainly factored. Of his 32 career interceptions, 28 have come with the Packers, tied for 10th in team history. His four postseason picks are one off the franchise record held by former teammate Sam Shields.
Williams’ veteran leadership of a promising cornerback group is a plus, and he appreciates Alexander, King, Jackson and others keeping the elder statesman feeling refreshed. For the record, this actually will be Williams’ 14th year in the league, but back in 2006 as an undrafted rookie who did not make Houston’s team out of training camp and then ended up on Green Bay’s practice squad, he didn’t officially accrue a season toward his pension and free-agent status.
Regardless, though, as he said last year when he returned to Green Bay after a three-year tour through Cleveland and Arizona, Williams isn’t here as some sort of figurehead. He’s here because he can still play, even if he no longer has any interest in comparing 40-yard dash times.
“No, not at all,” he joked. “But I do run with these young guys and I know they’re fast, so I know I’m still fast.
“Young guys like Jaire with a lot of energy, it makes it fun to come to work. I enjoy that. Just like those guys come to me with different questions and enjoy me, I enjoy them also. I can still move, and a lot of young guys in this locker room keep me feeling young and keep me on my toes.”
As for the future, he’s not speculating how much longer he’ll play, only saying “God is continuing to bless me with feeling great.” He puts in plenty of off-the-field work on his own to feel physically the way he does, and he doesn’t see that changing.
“It’s something you’ve done year after year after year, something you’re used to doing, something you feel in love with as a kid, so it’s not something that’s going to just go out the window when you get older,” he said.
That’s just another attitude of Williams’ the Packers remain thankful for.
“He still loves what he’s doing,” secondary coach Jason Simmons said. “That’s the thing about him. This guy still loves football.
“A guy that’s played that long, a guy that’s won a Super Bowl, a guy that has money, what keeps him going is he loves football. He loves to be around football, he loves to be around the guys, he loves to compete. And as long as you love to compete, we want him in this building.”