Tramon Williams: Rising Above

Aren DowCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2008

Every year in April, when the NFL Draft takes place, many turn off their television sets after the first few rounds. The diehard fans wait and analyze those "less exciting" picks, even those that are part of the supplemental draft.

That was where Tramon Williams fell. Picked up and later cut by the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2006, the Packers signed him to the practice squad later in the year.

Working his way up the depth chart in 2007, Williams challenged Jarrett Bush and Will Blackmon for the nickel spot. Williams won over the coaching staff and played in every game.

Becoming a kick retuner and trading off the nickel position, he capped off the season with his first career interception in the final game against the Lions.

Coming into the 2008 season, speculation continued over who would fill the nickel spot behind Pro Bowlers Al Harris and Charles Woodson. But as the preseason wore on, it became increasing clear that Williams' performance put him far ahead of his competition.

Fast forward to Week Three. After Al Harris took a shot from his own teammate A.J. Hawk, Williams filled in. Packer fans remember the heart-breaking play on 3rd-and-20 when Miles Austin out-muscled Williams and caught a 52-yard touchdown dagger.

Then word came out that Al Harris ruptured his spleen. Out for the season. Williams, the unproven cornerback, would now be second on the depth chart.

Packer fans were in agony. Not only were the Packers dominated by Dallas, they just lost one of the best players on their team.

That's the beauty of the NFL, though. You get great stories of unknown players rising to the occasion. Williams has done exactly that.

Notching an interception in every game he's started this year, Williams' play exceeded any fan's wildest expectations. He has been a key component, as the Packers' pass defense is seventh best against yardage and tied for first in takeaways.

Yes, the passing games they have gone up against have been less than impressive. The Bucs, Falcons, and Seahawks' passing games don't exactly scare many in the league.

But the Packers' secondary has done what they're supposed to do when facing mediocre passing games. They have been absolutely dominating.

Williams' lack of experience has shone through at times, but he has quickly adjusted. There isn't a better example than the interception in the Falcons game.

Ben Hartsock of the Falcons blew past Williams and the covering safety into the end zone on a breakdown of coverage. Williams recognized the mistake, and capitalized on Matt Ryan's lob of a pass. He made a spectacular catch to change possession and the momentum of the game.

With Harris' injury not as serious as initially made out to be, Williams can provide incredible depth when Harris returns to the nickel. The confidence and experience of three fantastic starts gives Williams something to build upon for the rest of the season.

Williams' climb through the depth chart is something every coach and GM loves to see. An unknown player providing a great contribution when needed gives everyone a sigh of relief.

"He is definitely someone that personally I like to point to when you refer to a young player coming into your program," said coach Mike McCarthy. "He's a competitive young man."

Williams will face his toughest task of the year this week, facing off against the powerhouse of the Indianapolis Colts passing game.

Hopefully Williams can make this the fourth week in a row for interceptions.