A quick overview of three storylines that could help determine the outcome of Sunday's showdown between the Green Bay Packers and the Cleveland Browns. Aaron Nagler/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY – Jamaal Williams laughed at the term as he stood at his locker, as if it has followed him since before his arrival in Green Bay.
“Thunder-and-lightning combo,” the rookie running back said Sunday after helping the Packers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-20 in overtime.
Williams may be the power running back complementing fellow rookie Aaron Jones’ explosiveness now, but he isn’t new to sharing the backfield with a tailback showing NFL speed.
“It’s my second time with the thunder-lightning thing,” Williams said. “The first time was in high school.”
At Summit High in Fontana, Calif., Williams shared a backfield with Donte Deayon.
In his second year with the New York Giants, Deayon was the lightning. The 5-9, 158-pound jitterbug is a cornerback now. Back then, Deayon (now on injured reserve) rushed for 1,266 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior in 2010, one year ahead of Williams. He also caught 27 passes for 632 yards and 11 touchdowns that year.
Williams wasn’t too bad himself. He had 717 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 93 carries as a junior, according to MaxPreps. The next season, after Deayon had moved on to Boise State, Williams’ production increased to 1,252 yards and 22 touchdowns on 141 carries.
The Packers will need to figure out how to best use their thunder-and-lightning tandem. However it unfolds, Williams’ role won’t be new.
“In high school, we were both running the ball,” Williams said. “It was like thunder and lightning. … He was the lightning, and I was the thunder.
“I’m always the thunder.”
With that, Williams had one last quip, directed at fullback Aaron Ripkowski.
“I need to get a tandem with ‘Rip,’” he said, “so I can be the lighter one.”