Former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a message for Jameson Williams when the rookie receiver reached out about wearing Stafford’s old No. 9 jersey in training camp.
“I don’t pretty much remember a lot, but one thing he told me is the 9 going to be moving a lot a faster on the field,” Williams said.
Williams and his No. 9 jersey were out running routes at practice Monday and Tuesday for the first time this season, and the Lions’ second of two first-round picks said he felt like his same old speedy self after two days of workouts.
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One of the fastest players in last year’s draft, Williams averaged 19.9 yards per catch for Alabama last season, when he emerged as one of college football’s best playmakers. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Alabama’s Jan. 10 College Football Playoff championship game loss to Georgia and opened this season on the nonfootball injury list for the Lions.
“I’m real, real, real excited to put my cleats on, be able to put a jersey on and be able to get out there with the guys and actually be a part of the team,” Williams said Tuesday in his first public comments since the draft. “It was something I missed a lot and I’m just happy to get back going.”
While Williams has not played a game in almost 11 months, he has been a fixture at the Lions’ practice facility during the team’s 4-6 start.
He’s regularly attending meetings, has watched most practices, usually with a football in his hands, and traveled to some road games.
“There’s a good rapport (with him and his teammates),” Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday. “And when that time comes, he’ll earn the respect from his teammates like the rest of those guys have.”
Williams will not play Thursday when the Lions (4-6) host the Buffalo Bills in their annual Thanksgiving game at Ford Field, but could return Dec. 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars or Dec. 11 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Campbell said Williams will add a vertical presence to the Lions offense once he’s ready for game action, and Williams said he knows coaches will “have a great plan for me and how they will use me when the time comes.”
“I’m just ready to get back on the field and help the team,” he said.