Allen Park — Earlier this week, the Detroit Lions reduced the team’s roster to 80 players, shifting four to regular-season injured lists. Among that group was rookie receiver Jameson Williams, who will miss at least the first four games of the regular season, and probably more, as he continues to rehab a torn ACL suffered in January.
Lions coach Dan Campbell provided a small update on Williams Thursday, confirming there have been no setbacks during the receiver’s recovery, while reaffirming the team’s commitment to a conservative approach with the rehab process.
“He is progressing,” Campbell said. “There’re no setbacks, but we just felt like, particularly being a rookie, he’s got a ways to go. And so, the best thing for him and for us is to make that move and just get him right, make sure that the knee is stable and he’s got strength in that leg, and he can cut, he can decelerate, he can accelerate, he can — everything before we put him out there and start getting him reps.”
Another player who has been sidelined all offseason, cornerback Jerry Jacobs, avoided being officially placed on the physically unable to perform list for the start of the regular season.
Jacobs also tore his ACL, but a month earlier than Williams, putting the second-year cornerback further ahead in his recovery. Campbell said the decision doesn’t necessarily mean Jacobs is close to returning, but he’s close enough where the team didn’t needlessly want to commit to shutting him down an additional four weeks to begin the season.
“It’s more, man, can we begin to get him some practice reps, just slowly implement him in what we’re doing in practice?” Campbell said. “Whether it’s scout team, or running our defense, just a couple of plays then he’s off to the side, continue his rehab, strengthening, and then maybe the next day, he’s able to get a little bit more.
“Then, hypothetically, he’s ready Week 5, let’s say, well, shoot he’s gotten practice for four weeks and he’s ready,” Campbell continued. “Whereas, if you just did PUP, he’s (out) for four weeks and then first thing you do, you pull him off, he’s not going to be ready to play, he hadn’t gotten any practice reps.”
Even though that’s the team’s present thought process with Jacobs, Campbell wouldn’t rule out going the PUP route before the team has to get the roster down to 53 players next week. Multiple camp injuries to the secondary could necessitate that move, just to keep another healthy body on the active roster.
Speaking of camp injuries, Campbell was less optimistic about second-year defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike, who the coach originally expected to be back ahead of the season opener after suffering a back/hip injury earlier this month.
“It’s hard to say right now,” Campbell said. “I would say there’s no setbacks. He’s trending the right way, but it’s at a snail’s pace is the best way to say it. He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do, it is getting better, but I don’t know. I would say this, if you’re asking me right now, you’re twisting my arm, I’m saying he’s not available for Philly (Week 1).”