Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams will be reinstated from his gambling suspension on Monday, making him immediately eligible to play for the team. But coach Dan Campbell made it clear that the 2022 first-round pick will not immediately jump into the lineup and become a full-time starter this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
“I’m not worried about him working. He will. It’s just about polishing all of the little things,” Campbell said. “We also know if he does play, he can’t play 60 plays. That’s not smart. We can’t do that to him.”
Despite being in his second season with the team, Williams remains relatively inexperienced at the NFL level. He missed the first three months of his rookie season as he recovered from ACL surgery he underwent prior to getting drafted. He also missed about half of training camp this year with a hamstring injury he has now recovered from.
Even when Williams has been out there, his play has been inconsistent. In training camp this year, the young receiver struggled with drops and frequently didn’t look like he was on the same page with quarterback Jared Goff. So before the Lions trot him out there, they want to make sure he’s getting better.
“It’s all about improvement, no different than the rest of the team,” Campbell said. “Every week, we just got to get a little bit better. He just needs to get a little bit better, and we’ll take it from there.”
As for expectations when Williams eventually starts contributing, Campbell is setting the bar low. He’s not looking for stats or big-time plays. He just wants him to be out there doing his job, helping the team win.
“For me, it’s dependability. That’s it. Reliability, dependability, go (get) lined up, know where you’re supposed to be,” Campbell said. “We’re going to get the (right route) depth out of you, and we can count on you being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there, and that’s it.
“I’m not looking for yards, I’m not looking for explosives, not looking for touchdowns. Man, just be a reliable receiver like any of those guys in the room. That’s it, and to me, that’s a good year. Because we’re about winning. It’s not about one player, and that’ll help us win.”
In six game appearances thus far—none with more than 18 snaps in a contest—Williams has caught just one of nine targets for 41 yards and a touchdown, while also getting a single carry for 40 yards.