Former Packers RB Lands New Role in NFC East: Report

Dex Williams Joins Giants

Getty Dexter Williams #22 of the Green Bay Packers runs the ball during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on August 28, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York.

Former Green Bay Packers running back Dexter Williams has landed a new gig.

According to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the New York Giants are signing Williams to fill one of the openings on their practice squad after he was waived during the Packers’ initial 53-man roster cuts on August 31.

The Packers selected Williams with the 2019 sixth-round pick they acquired from Seattle when they traded away backup quarterback Brett Hundley in 2018. At the time, he was coming off a breakout final year at Notre Dame in which he rushed for a career-best 995 yards and 12 touchdowns and hauled in 16 catches for another 133 yards and a score.

While Williams did make the Packers’ roster as a rookie, he was quickly forgotten as the third-string running back behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. He carried the ball just five times for 11 yards over four games in 2019 and played exclusively in garbage time. He also failed to make the active roster in his second summer with the Packers, landing on the practice squad for 2020 and adding just two more carries despite seeing elevation opportunities in three games.

Now, Williams will get a fresh start in another part of the NFC with a Giants backfield that features Saquon Barkley as its top weapon. The Giants also have running backs Devontae Booker, Gary Brightwell and Elijhaa Penny signed to their active roster and along with Sandro Platzgummer on their practice squad.

The Giants have not yet officially announced Williams’ signing.

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Williams Lost Out to Hill & Taylor

Williams seemed to be in an advantageous position when the 2020 postseason ended for the Packers last January. Jones and Jamaal Williams were both due to become unrestricted free agents in March and, aside from 2020 second-rounder AJ Dillon, nobody else really obstructed Williams’ path back to the active roster.

Unfortunately for him, the Packers inked Jones to a four-year, $48 million contract extension and then used a 2021 seventh-round draft pick to add Mississippi State standout Kylin Hill to the mix, restocking their rushing stable with fresh talent that pushed Williams to the bubble. Instead of getting to compete to be Dillon’s running partner, he was forced to spend the 2021 preseason going head-to-head with Hill and second-year Patrick Taylor for the chance to be the team’s third running back.

It wasn’t all bad for Williams. He flashed some good moves during his three preseason performances, gaining 82 yards on 17 carries and forcing a handful of missed tackles, but Hill did a much better job of impacting the game during his time on the field and finished with two of the Packers’ three touchdowns during the preseason. And despite being less efficient with his legs (3.9 yards per carry), Taylor had the look of a more complete with two receptions for 22 yards that presumably helped the Packers roll with him over Williams for the practice squad.

Barkley’s Week 1 Status in Question

Whether Williams will see any playing time for the Giants is a tough question to tackle at this point in the year. As is the nature of the practice squad, he could come and go in a matter of weeks as the Giants continue their roster-building process. Or, under the right circumstances, he could see some action as a game-day elevation.

It is worth noting that the Giants have not yet officially decided on the Week 1 status on Barkley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last September and only just returned to practice at the end of August. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Barkley has been “trending in the right direction” and has a “strong chance” to play against in their season opener against the Denver Broncos, but any amount of hesitance from the Giants could tempt them to call up Williams for a game or two for the sake of depth.

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