Detroit wide receiver Jameson Williams will be off the field for the Lions’ Thanksgiving game against the Buffalo Bills, but the former Alabama standout is nearing his NFL debut after starting practice this week.
“It was good,” Williams said Tuesday after his second practice session. “It will take a long time. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s only part of the process. It’s another step to get on the field and I’m happy to be a part of it. …
“I missed the game a lot. I’m really, really, really excited to be able to put my shoes on, put on a jersey and be able to go out with the guys and actually be a part of the team. It was something I missed a lot. I’m just happy to be able to start again.”
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The Lions traded 20 NFL draft spots to select Williams on April 28, despite tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in the Crimson Tide’s 33-18 loss to Georgia in the CFP national championship game on January 10.
“I’ve had a lot of workouts, a lot of bad days, a lot of bad days to go through,” Williams said. “But I’m here now, so everything’s going well.”
Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns in his only season in Alabama. He also returned 10 kickoffs for an average of 35.2 yards and two touchdowns, and shared the 2021 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year Award with Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones Jr.
Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is the only player on Detroit’s roster with more than 26 receptions this season. He has 56 receptions for 594 yards and three touchdowns. The only Lions player with a reception to gain more than 49 yards this season is tight end TJ Hockenson, who was traded to the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 1.
“He’s just got so much speed, man,” Detroit quarterback Jared Goff said of Williams. “He has so much talent. However we can use him, whenever he comes back it will somehow give us a boost no matter how many snaps that end up, no matter how many balls he ends up catching. Just having him on the field and having his ability to threaten people vertically and turn a 5m throw into a 60m win, that kind of stuff is dangerous.
Williams said he could bring another dimension to Detroit’s passing game.
“My skills are different,” Williams said, “so I feel like the coaches have a great plan for me on how they’re going to use me. When the time comes, we’ll see.”
After Thursday’s game against Buffalo, the Lions have six games left on their regular-season schedule.
Williams has been on the reserves/non-football injury list since August 23. Detroit has until December 12 to add him to its active roster.
“I’m not sure about that,” Williams said of his debut date. “They have to take care of that. I’m just ready to get back on the field and help the team.”
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.