One of the main concerns with the Detroit Lions’ 12th overall pick Jameson Williams was his injury situation. Williams tore his ACL in the National Championship game back on January 10, and many were operating under the assumption that he would miss some, if not most, of his rookie season.
After the opening night of the draft Thursday, Lions general manager Brad Holmes was careful not to put a specific timeline on Williams’ recovery.
“I don’t want to make a specific statement on a timetable right now at this second,” Holmes said. “But we’ve had a ton of discussion. We feel good and think that he can return.”
Even Williams himself was careful not to fully overpromise in his Zoom call with the media shortly after being drafted
“The timetable, I really don’t have one,” Williams said. “I’m pushing for being ready for training camp.”
But on Friday evening in his first official press conference at the team’s facility in Allen Park, Williams was a little more confident in his recovery time.
“I’m 13 weeks from surgery. I’ve just been doing regular movements, getting back to it. But I should be ready to go by training camp,” Williams said. “I’m shooting for training camp.”
Recovery time for an ACL is typically anywhere between six and 12 months, which puts training camp—typically done in late July or early August—as a realistic goal. In fact, back at the NFL Combine—on March 30—Williams said he was ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation and was on the lower end of that recovery length spectrum.
“I was hearing five-to-seven months,” he said. “But I’m hearing I’m ahead of schedule. I’m six weeks out of the surgery right now. Like I said, I’ve been walking without the brace for a few weeks. So I hope things keep going on this track and I get back as soon as possible.”
Again, that timetable makes a return to the field for training camp a legitimate goal. Of course, the Lions should be in no hurry to get him into the game. With a receiving corps filled with the likes of DJ Chark, Josh Reynolds, and Amon-Ra St. Brown, there should be no urgency or panic to get the most out of Williams in his rookie season. The Lions are playing the long game, and their goal should be to make sure Williams is 100 percent with no extra risk of injury before playing him.
That being said, if he’s truly ready by training camp, the Lions could be in an amazing position where they get a full season out of a player who likely slipped a few picks in this year’s draft due to the injury.