Packers cornerback Tramon Williams has done some out of character talking before Sunday's huge matchup against Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. According to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Willams sees himself as Optimus Prime.
"I'm definitely Optimus Prime," Willams said. I'm the leader of the Autobots. "I'm the leader of the young guys right now and when it comes down to tough battles, I'll lead those guys out there."
Williams may not have changed his twitter name to Optimus Prime, like Seattle cornerback Rich Sherman did, but the Packers will need him to live up to being Optimus Prime to beat Detroit on Sunday. With cornerback Charles Woodson and outside linebacker Clay Matthews on the sidelines, Williams will be one of the veteran leaders of the defense.
Williams will be sparring with Johnson yet again this Sunday. Johnson is the best wide receiver in the NFL, as nobody possesses his combination of size, speed, athleticism, hands and leaping ability.
Last season, it was a mixed bag of results for Williams against Johnson. On Thanksgiving Day, Williams completely shut Johnson down, as Johnson had only four receptions for 49 yards. Williams got safety help over the top and Johnson was as invisible as you will ever see him. However, in Week 17 Johnson torched Williams, as he compiled 244 receiving yards - the most ever allowed by a Packers opponent.
This year has been a completely different season for Williams than 2011 was. He was playing with nerve damage in his shoulder in 2011, so he could not play the physical game he had grown accustomed to. He was not able to jam receivers at the line or be aggressive in making tackles. Williams was forced into giving receivers big cushions at the line, which resulted in a bad year for him.
This year he has been back to the old Tramon Williams, so it will be interesting to see if he is up to the task of defending Johnson. He will shadow him all over the field, unless Johnson goes into the slot, which he has been doing far more frequently this season than ever before.
The Packers would be wise to shade Morgan Burnett to Johnson's side as much as possible, just like they did when he and Williams shut down Brandon Marshall in Week 2 vs. Chicago. Marshall only had five catches for 24 yards in the game- both season lows for him.
Williams may be forced to cover Johnson longer than he wants to because the Packers will be without Matthews. Matthews is an irreplaceable player and the Packers will sorely miss him in this game. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers will have to get really creative to create pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford has a tendency to hold onto the ball to long, so that should help.
The key for Williams in defending Johnson will be to maintain inside leverage against him. Forcing Johnson to the outside will make it easier on Williams and the safety over the top. It will force Stafford into a much harder throw, which he has the arm strength to make, but his accuracy comes and goes.
Also, Stafford will force it to Johnson no matter how many players are on him. The Packers will get opportunities for interceptions and they need to take advantage of them. Dropping interceptions has been a bad tendency for them so far this season.
After getting torched the last time they faced off Williams might have an added chip on his shoulder for Sunday's matchup. According to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel Williams is confident that he will come out on top.
"No doubt about it, he said." That's the way it's going to be."
This is an elite corner going up against the best wide receiver in the NFL. Williams will be out for revenge and Johnson will be trying to save the Lions season. Whoever wins this matchup may ultimately determine which team comes out on top on Sunday.