Jameson Williams began training camp on the non-football injury list for the Detroit Lions, which wasn’t surprising given head coach Dan Campbell didn’t expect his first-round wide receiver to be ready for the start of practice.
Getting Williams ready for the season is one of the top priorities for the Lions, especially since he’s expected to be a major contributor for the offense at some point in 2022. When that opportunity comes, the Lions will look to take full advantage of it.
The challenge right now for Campbell? Keeping Williams engaged even though he won’t be on the football field.
“We’ll find out, but it’s not easy. It’s not easy when you’re a player like him and what he’s been and the type of athlete that he’s been,” Campbell said. “He’s never really had to deal with this and so this is new to him. It’s not easy to look out there and all of those guys are running around, and he knows, ‘Man I could–’. He knows what he can do, and what’s he’s capable of.
“He’s just not there yet, and that can be frustrating.”
Williams is certainly going to be an impact player once he’s 100% for the Lions, as 1,329 of his 1,561 receiving yards last season at Alabama came when he was deemed open (per Pro Football Focus). He ranked fourth in the nation by averaging 9.3 yards after the reception. Williams also had nine catches of 50-plus yards last year — which tied Ja’Marr Chase for the most by a player in an FBS season.
Simce Williams is on the active/NFI list, he can’t practice until he’s medically cleared. If Williams transfers to the reserve/NFI list once the 53-man rosters are set, he’ll have to miss the first six weeks of the season. Week 1 is up in the air.
“We’ve got a plan for him. He’s working and he’s progressing. I think it’s big,” Campbell said. “The football is where he really – obviously, he’s all in. He loves it. He eats it up, and he knows what’s going on. He’s attentive in walkthroughs and meetings. I think it’s always got to start there.
“That’s the goal, and that’s the reach. That’s where you’re going for, but to get there you’re starting down here. We’ve got a plan, and they’ll be some days that will be rough, that’s part of rehab too. It’s not always easy, but he’ll get there.”