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PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the third of three key matchups this week in advance of the Packers' 2011 season-opening showdown vs. the 2009 Super Bowl champion Saints at Lambeau Field Thursday evening.
Saints WR Marques Colston vs. Packers CB Tramon Williams
In a showdown overflowing with high-powered weapons, Colston could pose the biggest challenge for the Packers' pass defense Thursday night, especially Williams, who is coming off an outstanding season and will be counted on to provide primary coverage on the opposition's top receiver every week.
Colston could be more of a factor than normal in the season opener with fellow WR Lance Moore, who had a team-leading eight TD catches last season, sitting out the game with a groin injury. Colston had seven TDs and a team-high 84 catches for 1,023 yards last season. He torched the combination of Charles Woodson and Aaron Rouse for a 70-yard TD the last time the Saints played the Packers — a 51-29 Monday-night rout by New Orleans in November 2008. Colston also had five catches for 62 yards in his season-opening win over Minnesota last year.
Williams, who has looked outstanding all offseason, is well aware of the great size and athleticism Colston provides and will be expecting Colston to try to box him out like a basketball player. Colston, who appears to have shown no ill effects from his offseason knee surgery, runs very precise routes and has a good head on his shoulders.
But the athletic Williams' confidence couldn't be at a higher level entering the season. Displaying great consistency, he allowed only one TD pass last season and was called for only one penalty the entire regular season. With his 42½-inch vertical leap, Williams' encounters with Colston on jump balls could be very fun to watch.
Williams had three tackles, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery in Green Bay's Week One win over the Eagles last season.