October 25, 2021

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Fit And Go Forward

Returning Tramon Williams gives Packers defense ‘some options’

The Green Bay Packers are not necessarily hurting at the cornerback position entering the NFC Championship Game. Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan, the team’s preferred starting trio since the start of training camp, are all healthy. The position is in such good hands depth-wise that both Josh Jackson and Ka’dar Hollman, two recent draft picks, were healthy scratches for the Packers last week in the divisional round.

Enter Tramon Williams. More specifically, re-enter.

The defense’s starter in the slot for every game last season, Williams officially returned to the Packers on Thursday, joining the team on a practice squad deal after he was released by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday.

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said bringing back Williams was a “great move” that provides a “calming veteran presence” for the position group and “certainly gives us some options.”

At the very least, Williams is an experienced veteran who has played a ton of snaps in a ton of big games and knows the Pettine defense inside and out. As a potential gameday elevation from the practice squad, Williams would provide an instant remedy to any injury to the top three, particularly Sullivan in the slot.

Coach Matt LaFleur said he’ll give Williams the week to see what he can provide, but the Packers probably didn’t add the veteran cornerback to the practice squad without knowing – or at least assuming strongly – he could help them in some way during this playoff run.

Williams played in six games with the Ravens in 2020, including 12 defensive snaps during Baltimore’s loss to the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round. He may be 37 years old, but he should be game-ready.

Williams also knows the cornerback and safety positions in Pettine’s scheme, giving him even more value should an injury or two hit the secondary on Sunday against the Bucs.

It’s certainly possible Williams will be nothing more than an emergency backup plan. The Packers secondary, which ranked second overall at Pro Football Focus in 2020, doesn’t really need to fill a hole anywhere. But this time of year, when a fine line exists between the elite teams, insurance policies can be vital, especially for such an important position group.

The Packers are betting on Williams being a more reliable option should a key moment arise Sunday against Tom Brady.

GM Brian Gutekunst has backloaded his playoff roster with veterans who know how to play and can fill specific roles. Williams, the latest addition, joins receiver/returner Tavon Austin, run-stuffing defensive lineman Snacks Harrison and versatile offensive tackle Jared Veldheer.

The four may not end up being the winning difference for the Packers on Sunday. But they are far less likely to be the reason the Packers lose should they have to play a role against the Bucs.

Of note: practice squad running back Mike Weber changed his uniform number to 40, allowing Williams to have his old No. 38.

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