Little guy Williams makes big play for Packers

GREEN BAY (AP) -- At 5-foot-11and a smidgen more than 180 pounds, Tramon Williams is the smallest player on the Green Bay Packers roster. Being light on his feet helped Williams break away from a pack of big-bodied Carolina Panthers and score on ...

GREEN BAY (AP) -- At 5-foot-11and a smidgen more than 180 pounds, Tramon Williams is the smallest player on the Green Bay Packers roster.

Being light on his feet helped Williams break away from a pack of big-bodied Carolina Panthers and score on an unusual punt return that started Green Bay toward a 31-17 rout Sunday.

Williams' first thought when he broke free for a 94-yard return?

''Don't get caught by no big guy,'' Williams said.

The huge play by Williams, a backup cornerback who doubles as a returner, came on a pooch kick by the Panthers' John Kasay.


Carolina lined up as though it was going to attempt a 52-yard field goal. The ball instead was snapped directly to Kasay, the kicker, and he punted it inside the Packers' 10-yard line.

''We never had an intention to kick the field goal,'' Panthers coach John Fox said. ''The pooch punt, we had guys down there. We just didn't do a good job of breaking down and making a play.''

Green Bay prepared in practice last week for the possibility of the exotic call because Carolina had used it previously this season. Special-teams coordinator Mike Stock positioned Williams far back before the ball was snapped.

''The coach told me to go back,'' Williams said. ''Usually, I would go up front, then move back. But, he told me to go back right now.''

Williams picked up the ball on a bounce at the 6-yard line in the middle of the field and veered to the right after Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly drilled Carolina center Justin Hartwig with a questionable block near the goal line.

''I don't know if it was illegal or not, but I never saw him coming,'' Hartwig said.

Williams managed to stay on his feet after bumping into teammate Jason Hunter past the Packers 20 and was in the clear as he sprinted down field along the right sideline.

Williams felt he had a big edge in the foot race that ensued because Carolina had to use its hefty blockers to disguise the trick play.


''(The Panthers) got all slow guys on the field,'' Williams said. ''So we executed our blocks, and we just made it happen.''

Williams, a first-year player, had never scored on a punt return at any level of football. He tied the second-longest punt return for a touchdown in Packers history, previously accomplished by Mark Lee on Nov. 8, 1981, against the New York Giants.

Steve Odom holds the team record with a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown against Chicago on Nov. 10, 1974.

Receiver Koren Robinson made another big special-teams play, picking up 67 yards on the kickoff to start the second half.

''It lets you know how special special teams are, how important it is,'' said Robinson, a Pro Bowl returner for Minnesota in 2005. ''Everybody says it's a two-dimensional game -- offense and defense -- but I feel like you've got to win the special-teams battles to get the edge over your opponent. I feel like that's what we did today.''

Favre's fake

Brett Favre has caught a pass before -- from himself, after the first throw he ever made as a Packer was deflected.

Favre looked like he was ready for another reception for one play on Sunday, when receiver Donald Driver took Favre's spot at quarterback and Favre split out wide for a play late in the first quarter.


Instead, Driver took the shotgun snap and ran around the right end for a 5-yard gain.

''He was supposed to run the whole time,'' receiver Greg Jennings said. ''It was a little quirk that Coach (Mike McCarthy) wanted to put in there. You know Brett, wherever he's at on the field, he's going to get some attention. They probably thought we were going to do some type of double pass or something. It's a great play.''

Driver ran away from the side where Favre lined up as a receiver.

''He told me he was going to get a block for me,'' Driver said. ''I was just trying to make sure I got down the field, but I didn't get that far.''

Driver, a ninth-year pro, enjoyed his first taste of playing quarterback.

''When I saw the play in on Wednesday, I was thinking it was going to be (rookie receiver) James (Jones) back there because everyone said James played a little quarterback back in college, in high school,'' Driver said.

Wahle mart

When Mike Wahle left Green Bay after the 2004 season, the Packers were clearly a team on the decline.


The departure of Wahle and fellow guard Marco Rivera played a major role in the Packers' fall from a playoff team to 4-12 during the 2005 season.

That's why Wahle, now with Carolina, is so surprised and impressed with the Packers' 9-1 start this season.

''They're a better team than they ever were when I was here,'' Wahle said. ''We never had a defense like that when I was here.''

But Wahle said the biggest reason the Packers are among the NFL's elite again has been the play of Favre.

''Brett can't miss right now,'' Wahle said. ''I've really got to hand it to Brett, there aren't many players in this league who are having a better season than he is, maybe not anyone.''

Wahle said he spoke to Favre briefly after the game and had the chance to speak with several of his former teammates.

''I congratulated Brett on the season he's having. I'm really happy for them,'' Wahle said. ''I'm not happy we lost today, but I still want these guys to do well, just not against us.''

Wahle wasn't the only former Packer on the field for Carolina on Sunday. Linebacker Na'il Diggs, safety Marquand Manuel and cornerback Patrick Dendy all were impressed with what they saw from their former team.


''I wasn't really surprised because they've been playing well all season,'' Dendy said. ''Brett's playing great, but nobody should really be surprised by that.''

Wahle admitted it felt a little strange to be beaten so handily by the team where he began his career.

''I have a lot of fond memories of this place,'' Wahle said. ''But this wasn't one of them.''

Sore Smith

Panthers receiver Steve Smith had swelling in his shin and couldn't play Sunday.

''When your body talks to you, your body talks to you,'' Smith said.

Drew Carter replaced Smith and was one of the few bright spots for the Panthers on Sunday, finishing the game with five catches for 132 yards and a touchdown.



McCarthy anticipates DT tackle Johnny Jolly will be OK to play later this week. Jolly sustained a shoulder injury early in the game and was taken to the locker room for X-rays.

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