Williams has edge to start ahead of Hunt

With Cletidus Hunt either injured or AWOL this off-season, Corey Williams has stepped in and has made the most of an opportunity to start at defensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers. Hunt has proven himself in the last two years to be the epitome of a lazy, non-committed athlete, but Williams is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Now the second-year pro is in position to improve a weak-link along the defensive line.

Williams suffered a blow in his quest to take over as the starter at the "three-technique" position for the Packers in the June minicamp. The second-year pro injured his right hip when he landed awkwardly during a "non-contact" scrimmage on the first day of the minicamp. He was forced to sit out the remaining practices. Fortunately for Williams, it was not a major injury, and he will be ready to go when training camp opens.

Unfortunately, Williams' injury gave his competition – Cullen Jenkins, James Lee, Donnell Washington and Colin Cole – more reps with the first- and second-team defenses. Still, Williams has claimed the pole position for the "three-technique" position because of his ability and potential. At 6-foot-4, 313 pounds, Williams is about the same size as Hunt, but he possesses better quickness and, obviously, more desire to succeed. Remember, Williams is the same guy who was so anxious to get to his first training camp practice last year that he forgot to sign his contract. He had to be shuttled back to the office and returned.

"The door is open," Williams says. "It's all about which one of us wants it the most. We're going to get out there and give it everything we've got every play, every day."

Williams, selected in the sixth round of the 2004 NFL draft by the Packers, played mainly as a backup at three positions on the defensive line last year. He played behind Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on the right side and Aaron Kampman on the left side. Williams also backed up Hunt.

Williams' experience at tackle is will work against him. But he undoubtedly will play a lot during training camps practices and preseason games with every chance to show that he can help the Packers win.

New defensive coordinator Jim Bates' defense relies on quick players to fly to the ball. The ends are split out wider, so it is crucial for the tackles to shoot through the gaps to make plays.

Williams, aside from practicing at the three-technique position, also has lined up at the nose tackle position this off-season. While most ends cringe at the prospect of moving inside, Williams is embracing the opportunity to make plays, whether it's at the three-technique position or nose tackle.

"I can use my quickness against most offensive linemen," he said. "That helps me out a whole lot."

Hunt, if he reports to camp in good shape, will contend to reclaim his starting job. He has similar quickness to Williams. But Hunt, who skipped the June minicamp, is behind in learning the new scheme. If his attitude is not any better than it has been this off-season, Williams is a no-brainer choice to start at the three-technique position this season for the Packers.

Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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