Allen Park — For months, Jameson Williams watched Detroit Lions practice with a bucket hat instead of a helmet. He wore a jersey that never got dirty. And he carried around a football in his arms like a newborn child.
When the rookie receiver out of Alabama plays his first snap, he will instantly be one of the NFL’s fastest receivers. The Lions have waited over half of a year to see it in a game. Williams has steadily recovered from a torn ACL suffered in the College Football Playoff title game in January.
But with Monday’s announcement that Williams was activated from injured reserve, the wait — for both parties — is almost over. He’s “not sure” when he’ll be back, specifically, but said he’s feeling like himself again.
“I’ve missed the game a lot,” Williams told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m real, real excited to put my cleats on, to get to put my jersey on, to be able to get out there with the guys and actually be part of the team. You feel me? It’s something I missed a lot, and I’m just happy to get back.”
As it always does with a serious injury like this, Williams said that rehabbing took a toll on him both mentally and physically.
“I had a lot of workouts, a lot of down days, a lot of bad days I had to push through,” he said.
But he’s “past both of those” and “just ready to suit up and play some football.”
So much about playing receiver has to do with intricacy — timing, route running, the whole deal. Williams’ game, as he put it, “is different.” He’s got straight-line speed and a knack for leaving defenders in the dust. For that reason, he’s not worried about developing a connection with Lions quarterback Jared Goff this late in the season.
“We did some stuff, but I feel like it won’t take long. It’s a connection, it’s a receiver/QB thing. It’s a normal thing. It’s football. It may take a little time, but it’s going to get to that for sure,” Williams said.
Williams added that he feels comfortable joining the offense because of the time he was able to spend watching film while not practicing.
“I just learned a lot about more defenses. Me being in the film room and being engaged and going through this with the team, going through this with (Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El), he’s taught me a lot of things,” Williams said.
Williams also commented on choosing No. 9, previously worn by former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, for the first time and said that he got Stafford’s blessing before making the switch.
“One thing he told me is the No. 9 is going to be moving a lot faster on the field,” Williams said.