Detroit Lions special teams coordinator loves Jameson Williams, doesn’t expect to have him

Detroit Free Press

Dave Fipp considers himself a charter member of the Jameson Williams fan club.

When the Detroit Lions front office asked Fipp, the special teams coordinator, for his evaluation of the Alabama receiver in the pre-draft process, Fipp called Williams “one of my favorite guys in the draft.”

“What he put on film on special teams to me speaks volumes,” Fipp said. “We all know he’s a great wideout, but when you’re covering kicks the way he does and playing those special teams plays the way he does, I mean, it tells me the guy loves football and he’s not in it for catching the ball and the statistics and all that stuff. He’s got a love for the game and he plays that way.”

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Williams was a standout special teams contributor during his one season at Alabama and played primarily on special teams in two seasons at Ohio State.

He averaged 35.2 yards on 10 kick returns last season for the Tide, had two return touchdowns in a game against Southern Miss and played as a gunner on Alabama’s punt team.

Williams was an impact coverage player in the punt game, and Lions general manager Brad Holmes cited the targeting penalty Williams received against Auburn as one of the plays that separated Williams from other receivers in this year’s draft.

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The Lions traded up 20 spots to take Williams with the No. 12 pick in the draft, after three other receivers — USC’s Drake London and Williams’ former Ohio State teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave — already had come off the board.

“His film was great and I was pumped,” Fipp said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen. They had asked me about him like months before and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ And then we end up with him. I’m like, ‘Jeez, all right, let’s talk.’”

Fipp likely will have lots of convincing to do if he hopes to use Williams on special teams this fall.

The Lions plan to be cautious with the precocious receiver, who is rehabbing from a torn ACL, and likely won’t use him much if at all on special teams going forward given the investment they made in him as a first-round pick.

Regardless, Fipp said he was stoked for the Lions to bring Williams aboard.

“He’s definitely special,” Fipp said. “I know he was one of my favorite guys in the draft because of what he did on teams, so I’m glad to have him.”

Three’s company

The Lions are the only NFL team with three kickers currently on their roster, but Fipp said there’s a good reason for going heavy at the position.

“We feel like we’ve got three really good players,” Fipp said last week. “I think that’s probably the biggest reason, but obviously the injury has something to do with that, too.”

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Austin Seibert, the Lions’ opening week kicker last season, suffered a hip injury midway through the season last year and underwent adductor surgery in November.

The Lions briefly used Ryan Santoso as his replacement before signing Riley Patterson off the New England Patriots practice squad and Aldrick Rosas to the practice squad. Rosas made a 43-yard field goal and his lone extra-point attempt in his only game, and Patterson had a strong final seven weeks, making 13 of 14 field goals, all under 50 yards.

Seibert, who kicked at the Lions’ open practice last week, has the strongest leg of the trio but likely must prove himself healthy before the Lions make any roster decisions at the position. He missed a 53-yard-ish field goal attempt in windy conditions during Thursday’s two-minute period and made a try from about 43 yards.

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Patterson proved reliable in his cameo last season, but missed two kicks at the end of Thursday’s two-minute period. Rosas made the Pro Bowl with the New York Giants in 2018, but has made just 63% of his kicks over the past three seasons. He did not kick in Thursday’s two-minute drill.

“For me, every job’s up in the air. And I mean that,” Fipp said. “Now, sometimes there’s reasons that one guy might make it over another and I’m not necessarily talking about the kicker position. But draft status, something like that, might influence it at some point. But I would say in general for us, the best guy’s going to win the job. It’s really not me deciding, those guys separate themselves and end up kind of making the decision for us.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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