Allen Park — The Detroit Lions are starting to get some of their players dealing with long-term injuries back to practice this week as cornerback Jerry Jacobs (ACL) and rookie defensive lineman Josh Paschal (sports hernia) were on the field for the first time on Wednesday. But the timetable for first-round draft pick Jameson Williams remains unclear.
The good news is the speedy receiver is making continued, positive progress in his recovery from an ACL tear, suffered in January, but the Lions don’t expect him to start practicing immediately after next week’s bye as some had hoped when estimating the recovery timeline.
“I know Jamo (Williams), really over the last three weeks, it’s really picking up in a good way,” coach Dan Campbell said. “So, it’s hard to put a deadline as to when (he’d) be out there, but I think you’re still looking at a while. I mean certainly a good time after the bye before we can think about it.”
Once Williams does return to practice, he’ll have a three-week acclimation period before the team would need to add him to the active roster. It’s expected they’ll use the full allotment to ensure the prized talent is in as good of shape as possible before being exposed to game action.
Fortunately for the Lions, they haven’t been hindered by Williams’ absence. Despite some injuries to key playmakers, the Lions are averaging more points and yards than anyone, while quarterback Jared Goff is posting his best output since his last Pro Bowl season in 2018.
Some added familiarity
As it’s currently trending, with Patriots starting quarterback Mac Jones dealing with a severely sprained ankle and backup Brian Hoyer sidelined by a concussion, this Sunday’s opponent is set to start fourth-round draft pick Bailey Zappe under center.
Zappe replaced Hoyer midway through last weekend’s game against Green Bay, more than holding his own, completing 10-of-15 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown in his debut. Accuracy and production were his calling cards coming out of Western Kentucky, where he set NCAA records with 5,967 yards and 62 touchdowns in 2021.
But while there’s plenty of film to evaluate, the Lions have the added advantage of having coached Zappe at this year’s Senior Bowl.
“Highly intelligent,” Campbell said. “I mean he picked up the offense very quickly, very composed, just had a good command of the huddle, teammates respected him. You could tell they listened to him and he kind of plays that way.
“I thought (the Patriots) did a good job with him of just trying to get him settled in and being smart and not putting him in a bind, continue to run the football, do things to get the ball out (quickly), and then a little play-action. I thought (Patriots offensive coordinator Matt) Patricia called a good game, getting them in there. And I know, if he’s the guy, he’ll be much more settled.”
At least in some part because the team is taking a conservative approach with its banged-up veterans, the Lions were missing 10 players at Wednesday’s practice, including seven offensive starters.
Running back D’Andre Swift (ankle/shoulder), wide receivers Josh Reynolds (ankle), Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle), DJ Chark (ankle) and Quintez Cephus (foot), tight end T.J. Hockenson (foot), center Frank Ragnow (toe), offensive lineman Evan Brown (ankle), defensive lineman John Cominsky (hand) and linebacker Chris Board (knee) were all sidelined.
In positive news, guard Jonah Jackson returned to practice, in a limited capacity. He’s missed the past three games with a finger injury. Additionally, offensive linemen Taylor Decker (knee), Kayode Awosika (hamstring) and Matt Nelson (calf) and kicker Austin Seibert (groin) were limited.