Fans haven’t seen or heard much from Detroit Lions 2022 first-round pick Jameson Williams through the first 12 weeks of the season. Aside from occasional updates from Lions head coach Dan Campbell, Williams has only been seen interacting with his teammates on the sideline.
Very soon, Williams will make his first appearance as a Lion. His lengthy rehab from a torn ACL suffered in the 2022 National Championship is nearing its conclusion. He began practicing last week, and could debut as soon as Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The rookie admitted he doesn’t know when that debut will be. Campbell said it would be a “tall order” for Williams to see the field Sunday, but wouldn’t rule it out.
“It’s really not my decision when it comes down to it,” Williams told reporters Thursday. “I’ll probably know when y’all find out.”
“I feel okay, I feel good,” he later added. “Like I said, it’s not my decision.”
Coming off a knee injury, there are questions about whether Williams is back to the full extent of his burning speed. He wouldn’t claim that he was completely at full speed, but noted that he’s getting close.
“Somewhere close to it,” he said. “I’m running real fast right now, I feel really fast. I’m feeling good.”
Without playing for the first 12 weeks, Williams could require an adjustment period. When he does debut, he doesn’t feel concerned with having to shake off the rust that comes with such a break from the football field.
“I wouldn’t say I feel rusty, I’ve been getting back on my feet,” Williams said. “I’ve been running around for a little minute now, so it’s just I’m back out with the team. I wouldn’t say I feel rusty.”
The addition of Williams strengthens an already solid receiving corps led by Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds and DJ Chark. His absence has made it difficult to build chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff, but he’s making up for lost time now that he’s on the field.
“Great quarterback,” Williams said of Goff. “Been throwing with all of them, he’s been putting the ball right where it needs to be. I’ve been running good routes, and just been having lots of fun. That’s the most important thing.”
The rookie has drawn high praise from his teammates since returning to practice. Chark spoke more on his young teammate’s potential.
“I think we’re all excited (for Williams’ debut),” Chark said. “The excitement that you guys feel that we feel, it’s real. I definitely believe that he’s a superstar, so anything I can do to help a guy like that, I’m here. He knows that, he knows that with all the receivers in the room. He’s getting back into practicing, which is a huge step, trust me, I understand. So, as soon as he’s on the field, that’s gonna be great for all of us. We all benefit from that, this team benefits from that. And, the future, he’s got a bright future.”
Chark has been hampered by injuries, as well, returning to action in Week 11 after a stint on injured reserve. Once the room is fully healthy (after Williams’ addition), Chark believes the unit will perform at a high level.
“He’s fast,” Chark continued. “One thing about him that a lot of guys don’t have is the confidence. Just the confidence in himself to go out there and make the play. And, if you have that, that’s half the battle. If you believe you can make the play, you will make the play, and I feel like he has that. Once we can get him acclimated into the system, then you’ve got guys like him, (St. Brown), (Kalif Raymond), (Reynolds) and me. I mean, the sky’s the limit.”
Williams’ excitement for his return was palpable. He hasn’t played since Jan. 10, when the injury occurred. After his long confinement to the sidelines, he’s ready to get back in action. A competitor, he outlined the mindset he utilizes when taking the field.
“It’s my job, it’s something I love to do,” Williams said. “It’s something I’ve always been taking serious. I’ve been playing since I was five years old. So, I’m 21 now. So, it’s 15 years, plus more coming down the line. So, it’s just something I love to do, something I take very serious and something I’ve been very passionate about. It’s just something, I click into that mode when I get on the field. It’s straight football when I’m on the field.”