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Sunday open thread: When will Jameson Williams play his first NFL game?

All signs seem to indicate Detroit Lions rookie WR Jameson Williams will miss some time. But how much?

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last week, we ran a poll of Pride of Detroit readers asking them which Detroit Lions rookies they are most excited to see in 2022. Unsurprisingly, Detroit’s two first-round picks occupied the top two spots in that poll.

Fans won’t have to wait long to see Aidan Hutchinson, as the second overall pick has already worked his way up the team’s depth chart. By the end of minicamp, Hutchinson was already getting some first-team reps, and it’s a near certainty he’ll get significant playing time in the team’s Week 1 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, the story could be very different for the team’s other first-round pick. Wide receiver Jameson Williams suffered a torn ACL back in January during Alabama’s National Championship game. Williams did not participate at all in the team’s rookie and mandatory minicamp. He did keep active on the sidelines, taking mental reps and occasionally catching passes while stationary on the sidelines.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell has already said he does not expect to see Williams start training camp, but when can we expect the 12th overall pick to take the field? Today’s Question of the Day is:

When will Jameson Williams play his first NFL game?

My answer: Based on everything we’ve heard from the Lions organization, it seems like the plan has always been to take him along slowly. Go back to the Lions’ Inside the Den video, specifically when the Lions are preparing to trade up for Williams, only for the New Orleans Saints to trade up to Pick 11. As the Lions mull over who the Saints will be picking, they try to convince themselves that they will pick Chris Olave. What general manager Brad Holmes narrates to the camera is telling.

“I did think that just maybe they’re in a position where they need a guy right now,” Holmes said.

The subtext there is clear: they expect Jameson Williams to miss time this year.

Now, from all we’ve heard from Williams’ side, he’s ahead of schedule. He said so back in March. He said after he was drafted that his goal was to be ready by training camp and he believed he “should” be ready by then.

However, it appears the Lions may have slowed Williams’ rehab down to make sure it’s done right and they don’t rush him back on the field. Williams told the media he’s not frustrated with the plans but did admit it was hard for him to slow down.

“I kinda had to be patient with things going so slow, moving so slow,” Williams said during rookie minicamp. “I’m used to move so fast. It’s kinda slowed me down a little bit. Really, patience was the main thing I had to deal with. Patience, it’s good though. Everything is good.”

So it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Williams will start training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. However, he is eligible to come off of it at any time during training camp. So it’s certainly possible that sometime during the month of August, Williams makes it onto the practice field and could be ready for Week 1.

But if that was the plan for Williams—if he’s that close to being ready for training camp—I highly doubt Campbell would come out and say this near the end of minicamp.

“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.”

Instead, it seems much more likely the Lions take their time here and place him on the regular season PUP after training camp ends. The good news there, though, is that PUP rules have changed. Prior to 2022, if a player was placed on the regular season PUP, they were out a guaranteed six games. That number has now been reduced to four.

The question then is when will Williams be taken off the PUP list, and will they play him right away? Remember, while on PUP, Williams cannot be practicing with the team for those initial four weeks. So will he be physically and mentally ready by Week 5? Seems a bit unlikely.

The way the Lions’ schedule works, there’s a pretty clear path for Williams to return for Week 7’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. Let’s say he’s physically ready after that initial four-week window, but because he’s gotten no reps with Jared Goff and the rest of the receiving corps, the Lions decide to keep him inactive for Week 5. Well, then the Lions have a Week 6 bye, and Williams has some extra time to be completely ready for when the team comes back.

If I had to guess right now, Jameson Williams’ NFL debut comes in Week 7 in Dallas.

Your turn.


When will Jameson Williams play his first NFL game?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Week 1
    (195 votes)
  • 15%
    Week 2-4
    (485 votes)
  • 20%
    Week 5
    (669 votes)
  • 47%
    Week 7-9
    (1523 votes)
  • 6%
    Week 10 or later
    (215 votes)
  • 3%
    He will miss all of 2022
    (116 votes)
3203 votes total Vote Now

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