Tramon Williams will officially be suiting up with the Green Bay Packers for another NFC championship game.
The Packers announced a handful of roster moves on Saturday, including the elevation of Williams from the practice squad to the game-day roster as a COVID-19 replacement for veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer. They also promoted fellow cornerback Kei’Varae Russell and defensive lineman Brian Price as standard roster elevations, signed emergency punter Ryan Winslow back to the practice squad and released running back Dexter Williams to clear him a spot.
The Packers aren’t running the risk of leaving their secondary shorthanded with the status of Kevin King, their No. 2 starting cornerback, uncertain for Sunday’s 2:05 p.m. CT kickoff. King was added to the injury report with a back issue on Friday and ruled questionable to play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, setting him up to possibly miss his sixth start since October.
Regardless of whether King plays, the Packers have a good chance of finding some rotational use for Williams in his first game back in Green Bay. The 37-year-old veteran is no longer in his prime, but his versatility as a slot defender, outside cornerback and safety can make him a valuable weapon in the right situations — especially with prior knowledge of the system.
Williams will become the first player in NFL history to play for two different teams during the same postseason whenever he takes his first snap on Sunday. He also played in last Sunday’s AFC divisional round as a backup cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens.
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Consistent Elevations for Price & Russell
A veteran elevation like Williams is bound to draw some attention, but it is also worth noting that both Price and Russell are getting called up for a second straight playoff game, which is not for nothing when it comes to two practice-squad defenders trying to earn a future spot with the team.
The Packers signed Price about a week after veteran defensive tackle Billy Winn was placed on injured reserve with a season-ending injury, promoting him for the first time less than 10 days later. He played nine defensive snaps in his debut against Tennessee in Week 16, then three in each of their next two games with his first two tackles coming in last week’s divisional win.
Unfortunately, Price’s most recent performance was also marred by a costly neutral zone infraction on 2nd-and-10 that allowed the Los Angeles Rams to pull within seven in the third quarter.
Russell was also elevated during the regular season, playing seven snaps on special teams against Jacksonville in Week 10. He saw even more action (11 snaps) when the Packers turned back to him again in their playoff opener and must have left an impression on the coaching staff, which has been searching for ways to boost the performance of its special teams. The question now is whether Russell will see his first snap on defense.
Another Bump for Dexter Williams
The other Williams involved in the Packers’ roster moves today — Dexter Williams, a 2019 sixth-round pick — has experienced quite a bit of turbulence throughout his second year in the league. He missed the initial 53-man roster out of training camp, landing on the practice squad. He was injured shortly into his first opportunity at real playing time in Week 9, spending his next month on injured reserve. Now, he’s been cut loose as his team looks to punch its ticket to the Super Bowl.
That might not be the final chapter in his Packers story, though.
If the Packers reach the Super Bowl and Williams remains a free agent during that span, they would seem to have reason to sign him to a reserve/futures contract for the 2021 season. Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Tyler Ervin are all set to become unrestricted free agents in the offseason, leaving rookies AJ Dillon and Patrick Taylor the only two rushers under contract for next year. Why not bring back another young back who has already spent two years in the system?
The process could move even faster if the Packers lose to the Buccaneers on Sunday, but who needs that negative headspace coming into game day?