I spent some time Thursday trying to figure out exactly what Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams was talking about during an interview with Baltimore radio 105.7-FM earlier this week. The discussion, transcribed by sportsradiointerviews.com and disseminated to media members, seemed to confuse the timing of Williams' 2011 shoulder injury.
After further review, however, I think it's fair to say that Williams acknowledged a previously unknown fact: The shoulder -- initially injured in September 2011 -- still hasn't fully healed. Williams said the original injury included "some tears" and nerve damage. He implied he returned too early after missing just one game and that, despite repeated public protestations to the contrary, he was limited throughout the 2012 season.
Packers teammates voted him their 2012 winner of the Ed Block Award, and a March 18 ceremony will be held in Baltimore. That explains why Williams was a guest on Baltimore radio, during which he said:
"I had nerve damage, so that's one thing that takes time. It could be a year, it could be two years to come back. And it's made progress, but it's still coming. So it's one of those deals to where my shoulder's still getting better at this point. I'm still working on it and hopefully it comes all the way back this year."
I was a part of several group interviews with Williams in 2012, beginning in training camp and continuing after the Packers' Week 2 victory over the Chicago Bears. In each case, he proclaimed repeatedly that the shoulder was fine. The Packers never listed him on their injury report with a shoulder injury, but we should point out that there is a difference between needing treatment and being 100 percent.
You can safely assume that Williams is not the only player to deal with aftereffects of injuries long after the prescribed recovery time is over. It's no different than a player who has sore knees for the rest of his career after major knee surgery. The real question is whether he will truly recapture his pre-injury form. Most people who have watched him since September 2011 would agree there have been plays when he appears a less-than-willing tackler. It happened more often two seasons ago than last year, but it won't take you long to think of examples from both years.
The cynics among you might find it convenient that Williams floated his condition only after the season as a way to explain deficiencies. To me, it's just part of football. Rarely do players want specifics of their condition publicized at a time their opponents can take advantage of it. It's not unusual for injury information to trickle out after the fact. So it goes.