Detroit Lions rookie WR Jameson Williams back at practice for first time since torn ACL

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions are back in the playoff mix after three straight victories, and help for the stretch run is on its way.

The Lions started rookie receiver Jameson Williams’ three-week practice window Monday in hopes of getting him on the field in early December.

Williams, the No. 12 pick of April’s draft, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Alabama’s national championship game loss to Georgia on Jan. 10.

The Lions traded up to take Williams knowing he would miss most of this season. He opened training camp on the nonfootball injury list and has kept most of his rehab out of the public eye.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said last week the team was targeting a December return for Williams, a speedy vertical threat who should help a Lions offense that has failed to top 200 yards passing in three of its past five games.

“I don’t see, there again, him playing on Thanksgiving,” Campbell said last week. “But we’ll see where it goes. He’s progressing. There’s no setbacks.”

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The Lions have a light week of practice this week ahead of Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Bills and after beating the New York Giants on Sunday.

After the Bills, they host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 4 and Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 11, and visit the New York Jets on Dec. 18.

The Lions have until Dec. 12 to activate Williams from NFI or shut him down for the season, and have proceeded cautiously with other players returning from injury.

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Second-round pick Josh Paschal took part in his first practice Oct. 5 after missing all of training camp following hernia surgery, and played for the first time Oct. 23 against the Dallas Cowboys, following the Lions’ bye week.

In his only season starting at Alabama, Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns. He averaged 19.9 yards per catch and contributed as a return man.

The Lions have battled injuries at receiver most of the season, and have not had their three starters on the field at the same time since Week 3. Amon-Ra St. Brown leads the Lions with 56 catches and 594 yards despite missing one game with an ankle injury and most of another while in concussion protocol. Top free agent signing DJ Chark has played just four games this season because of pain in his surgically-repaired ankle, and Josh Reynolds missed his third straight game Sunday with a back injury.

The Lions (4-6) are eighth in the NFL in scoring at 25 points per game.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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