Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams gives a thumbs-up Tuesday during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field. / H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
While the chances of Tramon Williams suiting up in Thursday’s preseason finale against Kansas City appear minute, the 30-year-old cornerback’s return to practice couldn’t have come with better timing for the Green Bay Packers.
Williams practiced in pads for the first time on Tuesday after missing nearly a month because of a bone bruise he suffered on July 26 during the second day of camp.
The former Pro Bowler is at a point in his career where a full slate of on-field reps during preseason aren’t completely necessary, but his return to practice this week has afforded the Packers a barometer to judge if he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener against San Francisco on Sept. 8.
Williams was limited to positional work and scout team reps in his first practice back in shells on Monday before testing well enough to advance to padded practice on Tuesday.
There’s still more information to be collected as the team aims to bring Williams back at a slow pace, but he passed the eye test for both cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
“I think everybody wants to know where the knee is and with the workload can it withstand one, two, three days and not swell up on him, just to know where it is,” Whitt said. “Mentally, I know he’s sharp. He’s in my meetings, he’s taking tests. You want him to see routes, so he can get used to seeing them and doing those things again, but the main thing is the knee and will it be able to withstand the pressure of a game? That’s what we’re trying to see with that.”
Williams didn’t want to go as far as to say he’ll play against the 49ers when addressing the media on Monday, but said it was a “definite possibility.”
Capers saw his involvement on defense on Tuesday as a sign that goal is certainly attainable.
“I think it’s been good Tramon has been able to get back on the practice field the last couple days and get work,” Capers said. “To me, that’s the first phase. I feel a lot better about him doing that than if we came out on Monday or Tuesday and that was his first work back. I think that’s part of the process working your way back. He got off to a really good start and then got hurt early, so he missed a lot of time here, but it’s been good to see him out there the last few days.”
Injuries to Williams and second-year cornerback Casey Hayward have resulted in rookie Micah Hyde leading the defense with 156 snaps in three preseason games.
That trend likely could continue against the Chiefs with Hayward still out and James Nixon (ankle, knee) and Jarrett Bush (ankle) still out.
If Hayward isn't ready for the regular-season opener after aggravating the pulled hamstring that sidelined him for the first 3 1/2 weeks of camp, all indications are 21-year-old rookie out of Iowa would be the next to step in.
“I think it’s been good because Micah has probably done more for himself this season just to show that the play style that he plays with – he plays hard. He can really tackle,” Whitt said. “The willingness to go in there and hit it and hit it without fear, I’ve been impressed with that. He’s played over 150, 160 snaps … As a rookie you want to get those guys as many snaps as you can if they’re going to be available for the first game.
“He’s a guy who is in the mix for playing in the first game, so he can’t get enough and I’m going to give him as much as I can.”