Allen Park — It was supposed to be a big offseason for Jameson Williams.
In a lot of ways, it still was — but after missing all of his first rookie training camp and a majority of his first season, many were hopeful this summer would give him enough time on task to explode instantly for a Detroit Lions team that needs all the firepower it can get to start the season on a high note.
Alas, the wait to see “Jamo” in action continues.
But unlike last year, when he was rehabbing from a torn ACL, the summertime can make a world of difference for the former No. 12 pick.
“Last year, it was a lot of mental reps, getting prepared for when he did return,” Lions receivers coach Antwaan Randle El said. “Now, he can actually get those (physical) reps, he’s running those routes and now he can figure out, ‘Oh, this is what coach was talking about. This is why we can’t give an extra move at the top of this route tree, because of timing.’
“Those are the things he’s trying to get and he’s getting … better and better as we go. … He’s starting to see it more and more, which is good.”
Despite what some have vocalized about Williams since he was handed a six-game suspension for gambling back in April, he doesn’t need any extra motivation to get better, Randle El said. The off-the-field mentorship he could use, however, is how to deal with the criticism of his mistake.
“I don’t have to motivate him much when it comes to ball. He loves the game and wants to be better and works at it,” Randle El said. “But the encouragement part, with all that’s going on … it’s just, ‘Hey, keep doing what you’re doing; stay at it, in terms of working hard. This is just another stumbling block that, again, you’ll come out stronger on the other side.’
“Those types of things, just encouraging him from that standpoint. He gets it, he understands it, and it will be (good) for him once we do get back and get going, as it relates into the season and the preseason.”
From a football perspective, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Williams’ offseason will be his developing chemistry with Lions quarterback Jared Goff.
Timing is especially important for a receiver like Williams, who has the potential to be the speediest pass catcher in the NFL on any given Sunday. With that deadly speed comes the increased difficulty (and necessity) of timing and accuracy — something that can really only improve when quarterback and receiver develop a high volume of reps together.
During minicamp and OTAs, Williams was sporadically plagued with drops, an issue that arose, at times, when he was healthy last season. Randle El said they’ve worked on eliminating the dropped passes, and that it’s not a long-term concern.
“Catching is catching. … We do it after practice, before practice, and really, at the end of the day, it’s the intent of it. Like, how am I going to catch it in certain situations? That’s what it comes down to. (Drops in camp will happen) for a little bit because we’re working on a couple different things to help him from that standpoint,” Randle El said.
“… ‘This needs to be caught and tucked this way, as it relates to catching and tucking it away from the defender. The defender (is) on your right — which arm do you put it in? Vice-versa and all that type of stuff.”
Randle El acknowledged Williams got stronger as the offseason program went on.
“It’s just a matter of him being on the field over and over again. Man, that’s part of having that offseason, and that’s why you always want a young guy to have the offseason to just be able to get ready for the season,” Randle El said. “ … Training camp is coming up. Again, another opportunity on the field, being with the quarterbacks, hearing the calls, all those different things that need to take place over and over again.
“You can see he’s getting it.”