Tramon Williams' athletic ability was evident from the moment he arrived in Green Bay, dazzling even veterans with his 40-inch-plus vertical leap.
That by itself was never going to be his ticket off the practice squad. He had to work for it.
"He could jump higher than anyone on this team," veteran cornerback Charles Woodson said. "You knew that was always there. But you have athletic guys all over this league that never develop into any type of player. You could tell with him, regardless of whether he was third cornerback or now moving into the starting role, you knew he wanted to be good, and he worked at it. It's paid off for him."
Williams completed his four-year journey from practice squad player to defensive cornerstone, signing a contract extension through the 2014 season. The deal is worth approximately $33 million, according to reports.
Since signing a restricted free agent tender offer in the offseason, Williams has made it clear that he wanted a long-term deal. But he didn't skip workouts or complain publicly.
"You treat people the right way, you do everything pretty much the right way and people treat you (well) for it," Williams said. "That's what the organization's done."
Agent Rodney Williams confirmed the deal Tuesday night. The team still has not made an official announcement, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Williams earned his money.
"Tramon is that example that you point to," McCarthy said Wednesday. "He has done everything that we have asked him to do from a professional standpoint. He has taken full advantage of it. He has earned every opportunity that was given to him and he has done something with it. I take a lot of pride in seeing a man like Tramon get paid and accomplish what he did financially this week."
Williams went undrafted out of Louisiana Tech, and spent the 2006 training camp with the Houston Texans before being released before the start of the season. The Packers signed him to their practice squad later that year.
He earned a surprise spot on the roster the following season, then started working his way up the depth chart — eventually becoming a reliable No. 3 cornerback, then a full-time starter after veteran Al Harris sustained a season-ending knee injury last November.
Harris began this season on the Packers' physically unable to perform list and was waived earlier this month, essentially giving the starting spot to Williams for good.
"It's always difficult to see a guy go down," Williams said. "You never wish that on anybody, first of all. Second of all, I'm one who never thought about injury, I played my whole life, never think about injury when I'm out of the field, and I've never been injured. So hopefully it continues going that way."
Williams has started all 11 games for the Packers this season, with a team-high four interceptions and a sack. He also is the Packers' primary punt returner.
Coaches say Williams became a complete player in the offseason by shoring up the most glaring weakness in his game: tackling.
"Coming off of last season, that was his No. 1 goal to improve and he has definitely done that so far this season," McCarthy said. "It was something that was emphasized really as our whole football team we felt we needed to be better tacklers, and that's illustrated every day at practice. So he wasn't alone in that category, but he has definitely improved that part of his game."
Woodson calls Williams a complete player, attributing his improved tackling to hard work.
"He knew if he wanted to be on the field, he would have to do that," Woodson said. "And I think it's just a mindset to say, 'This is what I have to do, and I'm going to do it.' And he's done it."