Unsung But Not Unnoticed: Lee, Williams Continue To Make Difference

What separates the special teams from the good ones are the guys that don’t receive a lot of fanfare, but each and every Sunday are going to be instrumental in getting the win. For the Packers, you might be hard-pressed to find two better examples than Donald Lee and Corey Williams. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Panthers Game Center


To have success in the National Football League, it certainly doesn't hurt to have the Brett Favres, Donald Drivers, Nick Barnetts and Charles Woodsons of the world.

After all, a team is only as good as its best players. And fortunately for the Packers, their best players happen to also be amongst some of the best in the entire league.

But what separates the special teams from the good ones perhaps more than anything else are the players that you fill in around your stars. These are the guys that don't often receive a lot of fanfare, but you just know that each and every Sunday they are going to be instrumental in getting the win.

For the Packers, you might be hard-pressed to find two better examples of this than tight end Donald Lee and defensive tackle Corey Williams.

Take Sunday's dominating performance against the Panthers. Sure Favre threw for three touchdowns. And of course, Driver was his normal self, gaining 83 yards on five catches, including a 47-yard bomb from Favre. Yet, it'd be impossible to overlook the contributions of Lee, who had his first two-touchdown game to go along with 49 yards.

On defense, it's much the same for Williams. Woodson has been getting a great deal of notoriety because of his penchant for big plays (he had another interception Sunday) and rightfully so. The same could be said for Aaron Kampman and Nick Barnett, both of whom deserve all the credit they've gotten.

However, here's Williams quietly going about his business but at the same time making a huge impact on the game's final outcome. He was at it again Sunday with four tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles.

In fact, Williams made one of the most important plays of the game with just under 10 seconds left in the first half and the ball on the Packers' 7-yard line. Instead of the team giving up a touchdown or even a field goal, Williams recorded a sack and a forced fumble of Vinny Testaverde that defensive end Aaron Kampman recovered.

Though it may seem like just another play made by a good football player, it's these types of plays that make the difference, especially in a 9-1 season. The turnover not only killed the drive, it also seemed to end all of Carolina's momentum going into halftime.

Williams certainly could take a great deal of credit for such a play, but that's not really his style.

"We've been sticking together, playing as a team," he said. "There have been no I or individuals. We've just been doing it all as a team."

For Williams, the two sacks have given him six on the year. That's third on the team to Kampman, who has 9, and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who has 8.5. What's more is that any time an interior linemen can get to the quarterback in this manner, it helps not only the entire defense, but it also takes the pressure off of the defensive ends, Kampman, Gbaja-Biamila, and Cullen Jenkins.

The effort hasn't been lost amongst Williams' teammates.

"He's been tremendous," Kampman said. "He continues to help draw attention so that we don't get chipped on the edge and we don't get so much attention. They've got to work on the inside. Guards can't leave (their positions) now and try to clean us up.

"It all works out together and it's kind of like pick-your-poison right now. So we'll just keep rolling with it."

Meanwhile, what Williams has done for the defense, Lee seems to be doing for the offense in much of the same way, which is under the radar.

After Sunday's game, the 6-foot-4, 248-pound tight end has 38 receptions for 458 yards and four touchdowns. He doesn't drop many balls and there's no doubt that he and Favre have a great chemistry with each other in the passing game.

{sportsad300}As for Lee's success, it might be catching some by surprise, but according to Favre, those are people that don't get to see him every day.

"He's meant a great deal," Favre said. "I don't know if there's a harder worker on this team. I don't know if there is a more determined player on this team. And that pays off. I see him work over and over again at things he feels he needs to get better at. Most importantly, he catches the ball when it's thrown to him.

"He's handled checks, he's handled blocking well and the trust factor comes when you see guys making plays or being in the right place. And for guys that know Donald down in the locker room they can tell you the same thing. He's determined to be really good. Some of those plays he made today were outstanding. He's definitely making my game better."

Coming from a player like No. 4, that's lofty praise, but don't expect the soft-spoken Lee to take anything but a humble approach to his game.

"I'm glad he trusts me enough to throw me the ball," Lee said of Favre. "I try to work hard each and every day in practice so I can earn his trust. I just thank God that he throws it my way."

Earning trust is also exactly what Lee has done with the Packers organization as they rewarded him recently with a contract extension. That demonstrates just how far Lee has come since the Packers picked him up off waivers from the Miami Dolphins in September of the 2005 season.

Now, Lee seems to be at the top of his game and just enjoying his role in helping the Packers win.

"Any time I'm on the field I want to make plays," Lee said. "Whatever I can do to help this team win. By them making a commitment to me with a contract that just makes it that much more sweeter.

"Making plays is what I love doing. That's why I'm glad I'm here. The coaches put me in good situations to make plays."

Speaking of someone who has a contract situation to think about, Williams will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Though it would be great if the Packers could make sure he stays in Green Bay just like they did with Lee, Williams insists it's really not on his mind at this point.

"I don't think about it (the contract situation)," Williams said.

"I just get out there and play, week after week. I try to work hard and make plays."

As a 9-1 season can attest for the Packers, that's more than good enough.

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