The Detroit Lions training camp is entering its second week, and while it has been exciting to see the new and returning players hit the field, there is one player who will undoubtedly be in the spotlight come during all of camp: Jameson Williams.
Williams’ rookie season in 2022 was essentially a redshirt year. Though he was active for six games, it rapidly became clear that the coaching staff was going to bring him along slowly. A few designed plays here and there, but otherwise a quiet debut for the speedy first rounder. Coming off a college ACL injury, drafting Williams was always going to be a move for the future than the present.
Yet that future might be a few months further away than originally planned.
Williams’ six-game gambling suspension means his 2023 debut will have to wait, and that leaves an obvious hole in the offense’s game plan. Amon-Ra St. Brown has established himself as a phenomenal receiver, and Williams was expected to be the complementary downfield threat of the passing attack following the free agency departure of DJ Chark. The Lions will now have to fill that void for six games, and there are a number of viable candidates.
The Lions’ second-leading receiver in 2022 was surprisingly Kalif Raymond, one of the more underrated players on the team and league in general. Speed is Raymond’s best asset, and with the flexibility to play outside or in the slot, it seems reasonable for him to step into a larger role while Williams is out. That being said, his size—5-foot-8 and 180 pounds—is anything but prototypical for an outside receiver, while the slot is St. Brown’s bread and butter. Raymond is talented enough to find a role on offense, but he won’t be a perfect one-to-one replacement for Williams. Regardless, he’s a player you should never count out.
Josh Reynolds was slowed by injuries last season, limiting his receiving total to just 479 yards. Yet it was Reynolds that flourished early on in 2022, recording 335 of those receiving yards in the first five games. After his back injury, Reynolds struggled to match that production down the stretch, while players like Chark saw increased roles on offense. Reynolds has the size you look for in an outside receiver, as well as the chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff, but can he rekindle that early 2022 form while Williams is out?
A new and old face has been added to the wide receiver mix this offseason: Marvin Jones Jr. The one-time Lion returns to Detroit, though his prime days appear behind him. Like Reynolds, Jones is a good fit as an outside receiver, as was well documented during some outstanding seasons in Detroit. The question is more about what Jones has left in the tank. Was his down 2022 season in Jacksonville a sign of regression? It is doubtful that Jones was intentionally brought in to be a starting receiver, but knowing Jones, he will put up a fight to earn that spot.
There are a few players lower on the depth chart who could see increased action with Williams out. The Lions spent draft capital on Antoine Green (pick 219) and Denzel Mims (a 2025 sixth-round pick), both of whom have the physical traits to be outside threats. However, it would require a superb training camp and preseason for either of them to start Week 1—as it stands, they are fighting for a roster spot.
If you wanted to get technical, the Lions have two other rookies who could emerge as the second “receiving” option: Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta. Both players project as dynamic receiving threats, and either one of them could feasibly be a reliable go-to option in an NFL offense.
With quite a few options on offense, who will fill the shoes of Jameson Williams?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which player will be WR2 while Jameson Williams is suspended?
My answer: I think Josh Reynolds will be the next man up.
Though Raymond is well-deserving of snaps on offense, he does his best work as a tertiary option. He uses his speed (and perhaps small stature) to make space in opposing secondaries. Playing him as a pure outside threat is a disservice to his skill set—calling him a gadget player is perhaps a knock on his talent, but he is the type of player that is best when moving around.
Those first five games of 2022 stuck with me, and I think Reynolds can be that dependable WR2 with a full offseason to put his injury woes behind him. Like Jones, Reynolds is a better fit outside than Raymond, but Reynolds has an advantage over Jones: chemistry. Chemistry with Goff is crucial to the offense clicking. Look no further than 2021, when Goff had little to work with until St. Brown came into his own late in the season. Goff and Reynolds’ chemistry dates back to their time with the Rams, and it remains a strength.
Which receiver do you think will step up in Jameson Williams’ absence? Scroll down to the comment section and let us know!