The Detroit Lions announced on Saturday afternoon that they have activated wide receiver Jameson Williams from the commissioner’s roster exemption list and removed edge defender Julian Okwara from the injured reserve list. Both players are now on the 53-man roster and eligible to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
Williams’ much-anticipated return comes after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy. Though he’s now expected to play this week, coach Dan Campbell warned that his role will be limited as he gets back into the swing of things.
“If he does play, he can’t play 60 plays,” Campbell said. “That’s not smart, so we can’t do that to him. So, we’ll see where it goes and it’s all about improvement.”
That said, his return comes at a fortuitous time for the Lions, as top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is dealing with an abdominal injury and is doubtful to play Sunday. That leaves Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Marvin Jones Jr., rookie Antoine Green, and Williams to fill in.
“We’re by committee here and we’re going to use all the pieces we have, all the resources if he’s not able to go because we’ve got enough,” Campbell said on Friday. “We’ve got (Lions RB David Montgomery) D-Mo, we’ve got (Lions RB Jahmyr) Gibbs, we’ve got (Lions TE Sam) LaPorta, J-Rey, Marv. I mean – so we’ve got plenty here.”
Okwara returns after dealing with a shoulder injury late in the preseason. He brings an additional pass rusher to a group that has 12 sacks in the last two games. Okwara plays the subpackage SAM linebacker role, which requires a player to be able to both rush the passer and drop into coverage. After losing James Houston to a serious injury in Week 2, the Lions have used both rookie Jack Campbell and Derrick Barnes in that role. It will be interesting to see how much playing time Okwara will receive.
The Lions already had one roster spot open. To make room for the second addition, the Lions placed fullback Jason Cabinda on injured reserve. Cabinda will now miss the next four weeks and will be eligible to return in Week 10, following the Lions bye week.