In first padded practice, Lions’ Jameson Williams shows potential, flaws and feistiness

Detroit News

Allen Park — After a short layoff to work through a minor leg injury, Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams took part in his first padded practice of the offseason Monday morning. And continuing a narrative that’s defined his brief career, bright flashes that epitomize his otherworldly potential were offset by several negative moments, including a pair of scuffles with rookie cornerback Starling Thomas V.

In recognizing Williams is a young, inexperienced player who missed most of his debut season while recovering from a torn ACL, let’s start with his positives from Monday’s practice.

For example, on a red zone snap in seven-on-seven work, Williams toasted the coverage of veteran defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

Returning from his own leg injury, Gardner-Johnson was otherwise a menace during the morning practice, breaking up multiple passes and delivering some thunderous hits. But on this rep, Williams went upfield from the left slot and took a step outside. As Gardner-Johnson attempted to mirror the route, Williams stuck his foot in the ground and cut back inside along the back of the end zone to gain massive separation for an easy touchdown.

It was a fitting moment after Gardner-Johnson had raved about Williams a day earlier.

“When you can explain to a guy like him the players you’ve been around that have been in his position, he understands the magnitude,” Gardner-Johnson said. “He already understood it, but now that someone is bringing it to you from a different position, I’m ready for him to play. I don’t know about y’all, but he’s one of the best receivers in the game right now. Got to give him his flowers, and if you don’t, we’ll see when he gets off (injury). … Working out with him every day, Jamo is ready. Don’t worry about it, he’s ready.”

That touchdown highlighted Williams’ speed, his bread and butter skill. And when he runs a crisp route, he’s almost uncoverable. In another stellar practice moment, he showed his emerging dedication to blocking, getting a body on defensive back Will Harris to spring a huge gain for running back Jahmyr Gibbs.

That came in response to a point of emphasis — or threat based on your perspective — from offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.

“Ben told me this thing in a meeting like two days ago. He said, ‘No block, no rock,'” Williams said. “It’s a team sport, so you got to do what you got to do. Even if it’s a run play, you got to make sure you help the running back because on a pass play, he’s got to pass block for us. It just goes hand in hand, back and forth, you know how it is.”

On the flip side of things, Williams continued an ongoing battle with sure-handedness. Even before practice really got going, he put a pair of balls on the ground running routes without defenders. And before beating Gardner-Johnson for the aforementioned touchdown, Williams got caught dancing too much at the top of his route during a one-on-one rep against the veteran, resulting in the timing of the throw being badly disrupted.

Then, there was the post-whistle activities. During a receiver blocking rep, where he wasn’t even participating, Williams raced over to a scrum of bodies who were shoving after the play and yanked the helmet off of Thomas. A few minutes later, the two were matched up head-to-head. When Williams lost his footing, causing a pass to ricochet off his hands, he took exception to Thomas’ trash talk and took a wild swing at the cornerback.

After practice, Williams downplayed those altercations, while also acknowledging he can’t let his emotions get away from him like that in a game.

“I just look at it as football, a physical play. We got over it the next play,” Williams said. “We know we can’t do that in a game, it’s 15 yards. It’s just practice though. Things get rowdied up and things happen. (Position coach Antwaan Randle El and I) talked it out.”

Regardless of the blips, the most important thing for Williams is he was back on the field. With a looming six-game suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy, coach Dan Campbell noted that the second-year receiver needs every rep he can get.

Williams will look to develop and clean up his miscues as much as possible the next several weeks before his absence to start the season.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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