Don’t expect Detroit Lions' first-round pick Jameson Williams to be suited up for the first day of training camp at the end of July. Head coach Dan Campbell made it quite clear that the expectations are for the former Alabama receiver to take his rehabilitation from a torn ACL suffered in January a little slower.
“I don’t see him being ready for training camp,” Campbell said. “We’ll see then. I’m very hopeful, but I don’t see it. We’re going to do this thing the right way, and when he’s ready, he’ll be ready. I don’t feel like you’re going to see him out there Day 1.”
While Williams has not participated in organized team activities or minicamp, he has been out on the practice field with a script in his hand going through mental reps to stay engaged. However, Campbell isn’t comfortable putting him out on the field yet, because he’s still got a lot of strength to build with that left knee, despite the fact that practice time will be crucial for the rookie receiver.
“We want to get him out there as fast as possible, and is it crucial? Yeah, it’s crucial, but not until he gets his strength up,” Campbell said. “He needs a lot of strength development in that body, his lower extremities, his legs, his knees, his everything. So until he’s able to stabilize himself and really get some strength that we feel good about to where he can protect himself, he can protect that knee, and he can compete and compete at a high level, we’re not going to put him out there.”
That all but guarantees Williams will enter training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, although he’ll be able to come off the list at any point during the preseason when the Lions deem him ready. If he’s not ready by Week 1 of the regular season, the Lions could opt to keep him on the PUP list, which would mean the first-round pick would miss at least the first four games of the season. (Note: This year, the NFL shorted the minimum time on the PUP from six games to four.)
Until then, the Lions are going to keep Williams close. Though most of the players will break from OTAs after next week, Williams will stay near Allen Park for the time between now and training camp.
“We’ll have a plan for him moving forward,” Campbell said. “He’s going to be around here with us, and the short period of time at which he does go home, we know where he’s going to be and whose those people (around him) are. So we’re going to have a plan for him.”