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Exploring the roster impact of Lions WR Jameson Williams being reinstated early

What to expect from the return of Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams.

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Friday afternoon, the NFL and NFLPA altered the league’s stance on gambling, handing down stricter future penalties, while also issuing some select forgiveness to those currently suspended due to unclear expectations. Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams is amongst those who will have his suspension reduced, and on Monday, he will walk into the team’s facilities in Allen Park and be able to rejoin the team without restriction.

So, how does this impact the Lions? Let’s take a look at a few things fans will want to know.

Will the Lions need a roster spot for Williams?

Because Williams was on the suspension list, he did not count against the active (53-man) roster count. Upon his reinstatement on Monday, his status will switch to “active” and he will then count against the roster allotment.

Fortunately for the Lions, they currently have a roster spot open after placing offensive lineman Matt Nelson on injured reserve on Thursday, meaning they will NOT need to make an additional corresponding move for Williams’ activation.

Wasn’t Williams dealing with a hamstring injury?

Yes. Williams did injure his hamstring during the Lions joint practices with the Jacksonville Jaguars, on August 16th to be precise. He was able to rehabilitate with the team for two weeks, then at cutdowns—when he was required to be away from the Lions premises —Williams was given a three-week rehabilitation schedule to follow on his own. Last week, he was able to return to the Lion facility in a limited capacity and was able to get checked out by team doctors again.

When asked for an update on Williams’ health last Monday, Campbell simply stated:

“He’s good.”

If it turns out the hamstring is still an issue, Williams will show up on the injury report next Wednesday, but until then, we are only left with Campbell’s brief update.

Will Williams immediately step into the starting lineup?

Probably not. The Lions have been preparing to institute a re-acclimation process, and while that process accelerates, it also still exists and will require some time for him to get into “football shape”. Remember, it’s been six weeks since Williams has run an actual route or caught a football on an NFL field with his teammates and coaches and it will take a minute to get his rhythm and timing back.

Additionally, Williams had some trouble getting on the same page with quarterback Jared Goff during training camp and drops became a bit of an issue. The Lions will use this time to make sure they iron out some of those wrinkles as well, before increasing his role.

So, expect him to be on a snaps pitch count?

Yes. At least for the Carolina Panthers game in Week 5 and maybe a bit longer as well.

What will his role be?

While it will take a bit of time for Williams to re-acclimate, his skill set lends itself to him still being able to produce impact plays. As we saw in the Vikings game last season, all it takes is one chance for him to get loose and create a big play—and he’s nearly impossible to catch.

Regardless of when Williams gets up to speed, make no mistake about it, the Lions' offense will be positively impacted the moment he steps on the field.

The Lions have found most of their offensive production with their receivers over the middle of the field through the first four games. And Williams threatening defenses with his deep speed should immediately open up space over the middle for players like Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sam Laporta, and Kalif Raymond. Just his mere presence will put defenses on their heels.

Then, once he is up to speed and ready to contribute, watch out because this offense will open up even further.

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