GREEN BAY – Tramon Williams wanted to make sure everyone heard him loud and clear: His NFL career is not in jeopardy, and he expects to return to his pre-injury form this season, even though his shoulder isn’t yet 100 percent.
The Green Bay Packers shutdown cornerback acknowledged in an interview on Green & Gold Today Thursday that his right shoulder, which suffered nerve damage when he was hit by teammate Nick Collins late in the team’s season-opening victory over New Orleans.
But unsubstantiated reports that surfaced and went viral on the Internet on Wednesday – when Williams and his wife Shantrell were celebrating their wedding anniversary – that the injury is threatening Williams’ career simply were not true, he said.
Williams spent more than a half hour on the final day of the team’s mandatory minicamp June 14 answering a myriad of questions about his shoulder and his progress in rehabilitating the shoulder – many of the same questions multiple times. ESPNWisconsin.com (as well as other news outlets) did an extensive report on his situation, and cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt was quoted as saying that he fully expected Williams to return to his 2010 form, when he made the Pro Bowl as a first alternate (he did not play in the game because of Super Bowl XLV) and was recognized as one of the league’s elite shutdown cover corners.
Setting the record straight again on Thursday, Williams said: “The shoulder’s doing fine. I’m still rehabbing it at this point, everything’s looking good. Structurally the shoulder is doing well. It’s more of a nerve thing at this point. I’m going to use the example I used in the locker room: During the season, I couldn’t lift a 30, 35 pound dumbbell over my head. Now I’m up to a 90 pound dumbbell. I’m not a doctor, but that’s progress.”
Williams explained that he was hit by Collins on the supraspinatus nerve, which is located at the top of the shoulder near the shoulder blade. He called it “a rare hit, a rare injury. Most guys never get hit in that spot, and it’ll probably never happen again. It shut down my shoulder at that point, so I was playing basically with one arm.”
Still, while Whitt and the Packers coaches contemplated sitting Williams down for an extended time, he missed only one game – the Sept. 18 game at Carolina, the first game Williams had missed in his entire football life dating back to Pop Warner – and made no excuses for his uneven play.
“This is football. If you’re able to play, I think anybody would’ve went out there and played,” Williams said. “There’s no excuses. I’m not here for pity or any of that. I went out there and did the best that I could with the situation. The coaching staff and me, we talked about it, and it was the best option – for me to play. That’s what it’s about. You want to go out there to battle with those guys, whether you’re 100 percent or not.”
On Thanksgiving in Detroit, Williams looked more like his 2010 self. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers designed a game plan that called for him to take Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson one on one, and while Johnson caught a late, meaningless touchdown, he was a non-factor the rest of the game. Johnson, who caught 96 passes for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season – and had a huge game in the regular-season finale against the Packers with 244 receiving yards – caught just four passes for 49 yards, including only one pass for 5 yards against Williams. The 3-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left that Johnson caught was the fault of safety Morgan Burnett, who failed to provide inside help for Williams.
“I think it was a combination of, me starting to feel better, my confidence going up because I started to feel better, and Dom understanding my situation and putting me in good situations.” Williams said Thursday. “I think it was all of the above. I think it was one of those games where I flashed what I could do. Obviously I wasn’t able to do it on a consistent basis all year, but I know what I can do – and I plan on doing it.
“Going back to 2010, that was a heck of a season. To repeat that is hard, but consistently, I think I can do that. I dropped off in my play last year, but at the same time, with my situation, I felt I was still productive. Was it frustrating? Yeah, but I was encouraged at the same time.”
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