Williams brings reassuring presence to Packers
That’s a good thing for the Packers, especially after coach Mike McCarthy said he was concerned that veteran cornerback Al Harris’ injured left knee might not be healed in time for the beginning of training camp.
Outside of Williams, an up-and-coming player held in high regard by coaches, the Packers don’t have much experience behind Harris and Charles Woodson. The team’s front office had to be happy when Williams accepted a one-year tender offer instead of sitting out and trying to force them to give him a long-term deal.
“You know, it’s just one of those deals where you come in and you do what you can on the things you can control,” Williams said. “And the only thing I can control is being here and being accountable, being here and being a great teammate. And that’s what I’m here for.”
McCarthy said Williams reported in “excellent” shape, and didn’t expect him to need much time to knock the rust off.
“He’s someone that I’ve personally enjoyed watch grow from his time here, the way he came into our program and the individual success that he’s had, and really for the bright future that’s in front of him,” McCarthy said. “It’s great to have Tramon back.”
Another restricted free agent, safety Atari Bigby, remains unsigned and was not at the minicamp Monday.
By accepting the offer, Williams will make just over $3 million this season. Had Williams not responded by last week’s deadline, the Packers could have reduced their offer to around $580,000.
“No promises have been made, we haven’t really done a lot of talking,” Williams said. “But like I said, I’m just here to play football.”
And while he’s getting a healthy raise this season, he doesn’t have the financial security of a long-term deal.
“There’s always a gamble in football,” Williams said. “It’s the name of the game. It’s the business. You know, I never was one to worry about injuries or any of that stuff. I haven’t ever been injured in my career, so hopefully that stands.”
Williams said sitting out the team’s voluntary workouts in the offseason was “a blessing” because his wife has been having a difficult pregnancy. Williams said he worked out with a trainer and other NFL players while he was away from the team.
“Basically, that’s why I’ve been gone, was taking care of my wife,” Williams said.
Now Williams is back while Harris, the player Williams had to step up and replace late last season, remains sidelined after a season-ending left knee injury against San Francisco Nov. 22.
“I think Al is going to be definitely challenged to make it at the beginning of training camp,” McCarthy said.
Harris didn’t dispute that he might miss the start of training camp, but insisted he would be ready to start the regular season opener.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Harris said. “That was my goal from day one, and that’s still my goal today.”
Bigby could be headed toward a long-term contract impasse with the team, but McCarthy passed on the chance to criticize him.
“You definitely probably have a little more leniency or understanding toward an individual that you have gone to battle with,” McCarthy said. “Atari Bigby has been here through offseason programs. I have watched Atari grow as a football player from NFL Europe, so I do appreciate his (situation). He is trying to do what he feels is in his best interest as a professional football player and for his family, and I respect that.”