After arguably being underutilized in some ways last season, Lions running back Jamaal Williams seems to want to be unleashed more this year.
For lack of a better way to put it, Jamaal Williams was the “Thunder” to D’Andre Swift’s dual-threat “Lightning” when the two Lions’ backs were both available last season. Swift is lined up for a bigger workload this season, as long as he can stay on the field.
Williams is a quote machine that “Hard Knocks” cameras have surely already found during training camp. After Tuesday’s practice, he talked about his expectations for the coming season.
Put me in opportunities, I’m going to get loose no matter what it is. I’m going to route run, I’m going to take some ankles. I’m going to bully as usual. People think they understand what type of football player I am, they don’t have no clue what I can do.
Route running, running the ball, blocking. I can do it all. I have no problem having confidence in myself because I know what type of player I am. I know what type of work I put in. I ain’t scared of nothing.
Could the Lions find ways to use Jamaal Williams more, and more efficiently, this year?
Williams spent his first four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, where he was primarily a backup. He set a career-high with 601 rushing yards with the Lions last year, but he also set a career-low with 157 receiving yards. That said, he did catch 26 of his 28 targets last season.
In 2019 with the Packers, Williams had five receiving touchdowns with a career-high 39 receptions.
An interesting idea that wasn’t fully explored last year, and eventually it couldn’t really be due to Swift missing four games and Williams missing four himself, is Swift and Williams being on the field at the same time. Swift could be used as a slot receiver, as an example, while Williams is lined up in the backfield. It wouldn’t be a core formation, but a nice way to mix it up once in awhile.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has almost surely thought about the possibility of having his top two backs on the field at the same time.
Williams’ value to the Lions intangibly as a team leader may overshadow the skill set he has to offer. He won’t be taking away passing game targets from Swift if Swift is healthy, but a Detroit offense that looks set to be very much improved has a second capable running back that is ready to be deployed as a dual-threat weapon.