Detroit Lions rookie observations: Patience for Jameson Williams; Josh Paschal sets tone

Detroit Free Press

Don’t rush out and buy that No. 18 Jameson Williams jersey just yet.

There may come a time when you want to hit the team store for a Williams jersey, and maybe that time is now. I’m certainly a believer he will be a difference maker in the Detroit Lions offense sooner than later.

But Williams said on Day 2 of rookie minicamp Saturday he’s not entirely sure he’s going to keep the team-issued No. 18 jersey he’s currently sporting on his back.

“I don’t really know,” he said. “I like it, though. How do y’all think it looks?”

The jersey looked fine Saturday, though WIlliams did not do anything of note on the field. Four months after surgery to repair a torn ACL, the Lions are wisely taking things slow with their precocious rookie.

Williams said he’s being as patient as possible with the injury, though the excitement got the better of him a couple times Saturday when he hustled downfield to celebrate with his fellow receivers after long catches.

“I’m used to moving fast,” Williams said. “This kind of slows you down a little bit, so really patience was the main thing I had to deal with.”

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Lions coach Dan Campbell said Williams has been engaged in meetings this week, and the Lions are in no hurry to get Williams or fellow ACL Club Recovery member, fifth-round pick James Mitchell, on the field.

Williams is taking the same patient approach with his jersey selection.

He has worn Nos. 1 and 3 throughout his football career, save for his two years at Ohio State when he wore No. 6. And he said he has already tried bartering with Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah to get No. 1, and those negotiations did not work out in his favor.

“He can have it. I ain’t too much tripping off it,” Williams said. “I’m going to have to find something else, or rock on with the 18.”

Lions reveal jersey numbers for 2022 draft picks ]

More observations

• I spent quite a bit of time watching the defensive linemen run through individual drills Saturday. First-round pick Aidan Hutchinson has violent hands and moved incredibly well through a pop-up dummy circuit for being 6 feet 7 and 268 pounds. There’s no question he will provide significant help in the pass rush department this fall.

But Hutchinson’s polish aside, the thing that stood out most to me in those drills was that second-round defensive lineman Josh Paschal was first up in every drill.

Paschal’s leadership is well-documented. He’s the only three-time full-season team captain in Kentucky history, and a scout told me earlier this spring Paschal had the makeup to be president.

There aren’t many rookies who would go first in drills ahead of the No. 2 overall pick.

“I just wanted to set the tone,” Paschal said. “Be the guy that goes out there and jumps up in front and not scared to make a mistake but just go after every drill with everything I got.”

• Seventh-round pick Chase Lucas saw considerable time working inside at slot cornerback Saturday. A five-year starter at Arizona State, Lucas said he played most of the past two seasons inside, and went back to school in 2021 in part so he could gain more experience playing that position.

Playing inside him “because I can diagnose a lot of things and (I’m) instinctive, and I love to study for the game of football.”

“And just how my personality, I’m a very talkative person,” Lucas said. “I’m a very people-person, so I know my teammates better than they know themselves sometimes, and I know their weaknesses, they know my weaknesses, so if I can talk to them and communicate throughout the whole defense, man, I feel like I’m in the right spot.”

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• Lucas wore a blue Tigers hat with the Old English D on it during his media session Saturday. He said he went to HatClub.com and bought the hat immediately after he was drafted.

“I still got the receipt and all that,” he said. “It’s pretty good. I love it out here in Detroit. You don’t get weather like this in Arizona.”

• Sixth-round pick James Houston had a big 2021 season at Jackson State as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, but he played in an off-the-ball role Saturday.

Houston had one pass breakup in the Lions’ combination passing drill, when he dropped into coverage and trailed a tight end to the sideline. He played alongside fellow sixth-round pick Malcolm Rodriguez, reuniting with his teammate from the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game.

“I was watching the film yesterday and I was like, ‘Man, we look good together,'” Houston said. “So yeah, it’s just been great having him right next to me.”

• One undrafted rookie who made an impression Saturday was Central Michigan receiver Kalil Pimpleton.

The diminutive Pimpleton (5 feet 8, 172 pounds) is incredibly shifty in the open field. He had two good reps during a special teams drill, where he evaded would-be tackles from third-round pick Kerby Joseph and tryout defensive back Najee Reams while simulating a punt return.

And he left one defensive back stumbling over his feet when he made an out-cut in a combination pass drill. Pimpleton took that catch to the end zone for a would-be touchdown, and the play came on the rep after he dropped a pass and made himself do pushups as punishment.

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“I have very high standards for myself and to have that drop on a day like this, ain’t nothing stopping me from dropping the ball except for me,” Pimpleton said. “So to have that drop, that’s disappointing to myself but I come back, knock those pushups out and I put it behind me. It’s all the way in the back of my head, so the only thing that’s on my mind is the next play.”

The Lions seem pretty full at receiver with the offseason additions of Williams and DJ Chark, but Pimpleton will be a player to keep an eye on this summer.

• Never read too much into position rotations in rookie camp, but the Lions opened Saturday with their three undrafted rookie linemen at left tackle (Obinna Eze), left guard (Zein Obeid) and right guard (Kevin Jarvis). Tryout players Logan Harris (Wyoming) and Evin Ksiezarczyk (Buffalo) played center and right tackle, respectively.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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