Lions running back Jamaal Williams wants to ‘step up’ as a leader in 2022

Detroit News

Allen Park — Over the weekend, the Lions released a hype video featuring practice highlights and a voiceover from running back Jamaal Williams, who was giving a speech to teammates with a tagline of “Lock the gates.”

Williams, a fan favorite for his goofy personality off the football field, said that he’s “just trying to step up more as the leader that I am.”

“When I see something or how I’m feeling, I just want to make my teammates understand how I’m feeling and what we can do better and what type of team we can be,” Williams said. “It’s just a mindset, and I feel like the more we talk about, and the more that we keep this level of expectation for ourselves, everybody else on the team is going to get contagious and then they see we really can do something special here. It’s all mental.”

Williams signed a two-year deal with the Lions last offseason after playing the first four seasons of his career with the Green Bay Packers.

He’s seen first-hand what it takes to win a division title and have legitimate championship aspirations. Now, he’s trying to use his personality that’s drawn attention off the field as a benefit to his team on it.

“We’re working hard, we’re doing everything we can, but it’s just the mental work that we’ve got to keep going on, because I feel like that’s when the championship teams come out,” Williams said. “Everybody’s going to be tired, but it’s about working on your fundamentals when you’re tired and beating people with it, with your techniques.”

When he showed up for his media availability Tuesday, Williams was the last player off the field. He had a bag full of goodies from fans; a Naruto Funko Pop, some posters, and gave a public-service announcement.

“PSA announcement for anybody that’s a Jamaal fan: if you bring me anime stuff, I’ll give you gloves, anything. You’re my first priority,” Williams said. “But if people bring anime stuff I know they understand me as a person, and they don’t just see me as a football player. So you understand me as a person, you get more attention from me.”

It’s funny, though: While Williams has become known for these quirky media sessions and his desire to be seen as a person, it feels as though there’s at least some part of him that wants people to remember that he’s pretty dang good at football.

He’s averaged 4.0 yards per carry over his career, and rushed for a career-best 601 yards in 13 games as the Lions’ No. 2 option last season. It seems as though as people have forgotten at times that he, too, stands to benefit massively from a healthy offensive line in 2022.

“I’m just going to get loose. Just put me in opportunities, and I’m going to get loose no matter what it is. I’ma route run, I’ma take some ankles, I’ma bully, as usual. People think they understand what type of football player I am, and they don’t have no clue what I can do,” Williams said. “I literally can take anybody’s ankles. I ain’t scared of nobody. Route running, running the ball, blocking. I can do it all, and I have no problem having confidence in myself. Because I know what type of player I am and what type of work I put in. I ain’t scared of nothing.

“Look at my hair, man. Dreads, ugly face. I don’t care.”

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

nbianchi@detroitnews.com

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