Jamaal Williams makes his move, pushes Ty Montgomery for starting job

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When training camp started, there was Ty Montgomery and everyone else. A week later, Jamaal Williams has broken out of the pack of rookie running backs.

Montgomery remains the favorite to open the season as the Green Bay Packers' starting running back, but Williams has already started to push him. His reps with the No. 1 offense spiked this week to the point where, in Thursday evening’s practice, he took the first snaps in a team period with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the starters. Montgomery still handled the two-minute drill, but Williams jumped in during a regular-down-and-distance period.

In some ways, Williams has made the transition from BYU to the NFL look easy.

“You said, easy?” Williams asked Friday. “I appreciate the compliment, but no.”

The 6-foot, 213-pound fourth-round draft pick already has shown a knack for finding a hole, catching the ball out of the backfield and picking up blitzing defenders. The third part of that equation may be the most important and what has earned Williams work with the starters.

“Obviously running the football, that’s important,” Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “Catching the football as a receiver out of the backfield as well, [and] going back to the pass protection, you can’t stress it enough as far as the overall importance of being able to be in sync with that protection unit, the offensive line and understanding the role they play in the protection game.”

It’s still early in the evaluation process of the running backs. Coach Mike McCarthy skewed offseason work more heavily toward the passing game because running game drills in non-padded practices are mostly worthless. Even now in training camp, there’s no full tackling to the ground.

But to this point, Williams has at least separated himself from fellow rookie draft picks Aaron Jones (fifth round) and Devante Mays (seventh round) plus undrafted rookies Kalif Phillips and William Stanback.

Williams said he didn’t know before the most recent practices that he would work with the starters; his first work with the top group came on Tuesday. He just waits for running backs coach Ben Sirmans to call out No. 30 for his turn. And when that turn comes with Rodgers, Williams said the key is to “just keep it chill, don’t be a little fan in there, go in there and be another teammate and just help everybody."