A healthier Tramon Williams looks like an elite cornerback once again
The title of this post pays homage to Notes On a Scandal - one of the most underrated movies in recent years. Anyway, here are 5 thoughts from the Packers’ 27-13 victory over the Bengals on Thursday:
1) Tramon Williams isn’t Darrell Revis, but he may receive similar treatment from quarterbacks this season. It’s hard to imagine too many balls being thrown Williams’ way when the pickings should be much easier on the opposite side of the field. Regardless, it’s sure nice to see the former Louisiana Tech star healthy again. He was arguably the second-best corner in the league in 2010, but a serious shoulder injury made him look very average last season. With Williams back to form, the Packers will automatically be better against the pass. How much better will depend on what happens at the other corner. The secondary really needs Davon House to return from his own shoulder injury as quickly as possible.
2) I have absolutely no problem with Donald Driver making this football team. He’s had a very solid training camp, and more importantly, none of the young receivers (i.e. Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley) have done enough to replace him on the roster. I do, however, have a major problem with Driver taking snaps away from James Jones and especially Randall Cobb. At the age of 37, Driver struggles to get separation against even the most mediocre defensive backs. And while he still has the ability to find openings in tight spaces, so do Jones and Cobb. The difference is that those two younger players can beat cornerbacks and provide Aaron Rodgers with far more opportunities to complete passes down the field.
3) It only took a handful of carries to see why general manager Ted Thompson chose Cedric Benson over Ryan Grant. Playing against his former team, the newest Packer showed why he hasn’t rushed for less than 1,000 yards since the ’08 season. He’s a big, strong and powerful runner who’s swift afoot for his size and knows how to finish runs. He keeps his knees pumping on contact and can carry tacklers with him for extra yardage. If Benson can secure the football, he’s going to be a huge addition to the offense. Not only is he better than Grant, James Starks and Alex Green, but he’s also more respected by opposing defensive coordinators. That in itself should open things up a little more for the passing game.
4) Marshall Newhouse is too athletic and too intelligent to fail at left tackle, but I don’t think he’s ever going to be better than average at the position. He reminds me a lot of former Eagle and current Colt Winston Justice, another very talented offensive lineman who never took that step from serviceable to good. Newhouse has quick feet, but he still gets beat to the outside. That’s because he’s a bit high-hipped, and even after another year in the weight room, he still has an underdeveloped upper body. The offense set numerous franchise records last season with Newhouse starting 10 games at left tackle, so there’s no reason to panic. But anyone expecting him to be Chad Clifton in his prime will be extremely disappointed.
5) Real estate is all about location, location and location. You can say the same thing about Evan Dietrich-Smith. While the former Idaho State star did OK when playing between Pro Bowl center Scott Wells and Pro Bowl caliber right tackle Bryan Bulaga last season, he’s struggled this summer when flanked by undrafted rookies. It’s as if every one of his physical limitations has been magnified. He really labors to shift his weight and handle quick counters. The good news is that if EDS has to play this season, he’ll be surrounded by quality linemen. The bad news is that a team’s top backup at three positions should probably be able to hold his own regardless of who’s standing to his right and to his left.