North Notes: Williams, Lyerla, Worilds

Packers cornerback Tramon Williams was a Pro Bowler in 2010, but a shoulder injury in the 2011 season opener limited his effectiveness for two seasons (despite starting 31 games). The 31-year-old seemed to regain his form last season, however, writes ESPN Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde, who quoted cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt: “Really, the last nine games – [Williams] played as good as everybody talked about 2010. From the New York game on, if you’re looking for much better play than that, you’re not going to get it from anybody in the league. Now, can we get it for 16 games and onto the playoffs and next year? I’m a firm believer if he’s healthy, we’re going to get it.”

Here’s a handful more NFC and AFC North links:

  • An story touching on Packers tight ends recycled a May story by the Journal Sentinel’s Tyler Dunne in which Eagles rookie receiver Josh Huff said former Oregon teammate and current Packers hopeful Colt Lyerla can be better than the best tight ends in the game. That said, the position is crowded. In a recent podcast, Dunne and Fox 11-TV’s Justin Felder speculated about Lyerla’s chances, saying roster decisions might come down to special-teams utility. They also wondered aloud if trying to stash Lyerla on the practice squad — in a scenario where he is productive and trustworthy through training camp — would be too risky.
  • The Steelers were next up in’s “Best and Worst Contracts” series, and Jason Fitzgerald is very skeptical of the team’s decision to use the transition tag on outside linebacker Jason Worilds: “In my estimation, with just half of a pretty good season under his belt in four years, Worilds was looking at no more than $6.5 million per year on a long-term deal. Now with the leverage of the [$9.8MM] tender, he has limited incentive to take a reasonable deal, so they’ll likely have to overpay significantly if they want to retain him long-term. And if they don’t retain him long-term, they’ll have overpaid significantly for a single season from a player who has been mediocre at best to this point.”
  • The Steelers’ nose tackle position, most notably returning starter Steve McLendon, was previewed by ESPN’s Scott Brown. McLendon was just “OK” as Casey Hampton’s replacement last season, and “McLendon still has to prove that he is the long-term answer at nose tackle,” says Brown, “but he appears to be in a much better position to play well this season, both from a physical and mental standpoint.” McLendon, who played about a third of the Steelers’ defensive snaps in 2013, has bulked up 20 pounds in an effort to anchor better against the run.
  • The departure of Arthur Jones via free agency creates an opportunity for Ravens defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson, writes staff writer Garrett Downing, who points out Tyson’s career arc is similar to Jones’.
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