Jameson Williams can’t return to the Detroit Lions‘ lineup soon enough.
“I just wish it was yesterday,” Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El said. “He’s just got to keep working at it, and that’s the thing. He’s working hard, not just in the weight room but in the training room and all that stuff to try to get back and get going, get his first taste.”
Williams declined an interview request in the locker room Wednesday, saying he is waiting to talk to reporters until he returns to the 53-man roster, but the rookie receiver has posted promising updates on his rehab from a torn ACL on social media in recent weeks.
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The No. 12 pick of April’s draft, Williams is back running and cutting, and Randle El and others are counting down the days until they can add his deep speed to the offense.
“Oh, he can play,” Randle El said when asked what to expect once Williams gets back on the field. “He’s a guy you can move around. He’s smart, he gets it in terms of being in different spots, and that’s what you want to do with a guy like that, use his speed whether it’s him running past somebody or him getting somebody else open. That speed means a lot.”
The Lions have one of the NFL’s most formidable offenses through three weeks. They rank second at 31.7 points per game and third in total yards, but they sit in the bottom half of the league in yards per pass play.
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Williams was one of the best deep-play threats in college football last season, averaging 19.9 yards per catch while helping Alabama reach the national championship game. The Lions are counting on his explosiveness to add a different dimension to their passing game, though that likely won’t be till around midseason.
Josh Reynolds (16.2 ypc) and DJ Chark (14 ypc) are the only Lions receivers currently averaging more than 11 yards per catch, and they have combined for 17 receptions in three games.
Randle El said Williams has stayed involved with game plan meetings during his rehab to speed his learning curve once he’s cleared to play. The two talk regularly before practice and in between periods on the field, and Randle El said “it’s not the skill set, it’s his mental aspect” that should allow Williams to contribute quickly upon his return.
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“He understands it, and can talk to you about coverage and stuff like that, so he gets it,” Randle El said. “The physical part I’m not worried about, it’s always the mental that you want to make sure a guy has. And he has it. He’s getting it down.”
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.