Jameson Williams

Lions Designate WR Jameson Williams For Return

Fresh off a victory which extended their winning streak to three games, the Lions could have a significant addition coming soon. The team announced on Monday that they have opened rookie wideout Jameson Williams‘ practice window.

That gives him three weeks to be activated from the NFI list. If he does not return within that timeframe, he will be ineligible to play in 2022. Today’s news represents an encouraging step towards a debut in the near future, though. It also falls in line with what the team had indicated last week.

“I would say probably after Thanksgiving sometime… I think that’s tentatively what we’re looking at,” head coach Dan Campbell had said at that time on the question of bringing Williams into the fold. ” We’ll see where it goes. He’s progressing, there’s no setbacks.”

Detroit traded up in the first round to select the Alabama product with the No. 12 pick, despite knowing that his ACL tear would leave him unavailable for most of the season. The team had initially aimed for a return to the field around the midway mark of the campaign, but that proved too optimistic. Any game action from Williams would likely do wonders for the team’s offense, given the production he put up in his final college season.

The 6-2, 190-pound speedster racked up 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns while helping lead the Crimson Tide to the national title game. It was there that he suffered the injury, though it did little to hurt his draft stock. A healthy Williams would provide the Lions with their top trio at the position for the first time, joining Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark (who himself was just activated from IR).

That could help provide some stability in the passing game for the 4-6 Lions. The team ranks mid-pack with an average of 245 yards per game through the air for the season, but has fallen short of 200 yards three times in the past five games. In the near future, though, the Lions’ full array of wideouts should be available.

Lions Designate Romeo Okwara, DJ Chark For Return, Aiming For Late-Season Jameson Williams Look

Coming off their second straight win, the Lions made some notable transactions Wednesday. They designated Romeo Okwara and DJ Chark for return.

In his third season with Detroit, Okwara has been on the team’s reserve/PUP list all season. He has been recovering from a torn Achilles for more than 13 months. Chark has been out since Week 3. The free agency pickup his now missed 19 games over the past two seasons.

While Chark returning stands to bolster a Lions attack that has seen its top skill-position players either miss time (Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift) or be traded (T.J. Hockenson), the Lions’ plans with Jameson Williams take big-picture precedence. Still sidelined from the ACL tear he suffered in last season’s national championship game, Williams remains in the picture for this season’s Lions. The team is hoping for Williams to return to practice after Thanksgiving, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets.

It would be a nice bonus for the rebuilding Lions to have Williams see game action this season, but that may not be a guarantee. The team has been cautious with the first-round pick. Previous reports indicated a midseason return to practice was in play, but the franchise has pushed back the timetable. Considering the current team’s status and Williams’ long-term importance to the organization, it is unsurprising his rehab run is approaching the 11-month mark.

The Lions having a St. Brown-Chark-Williams trio together for this season’s final games would represent a nice evaluation window for the future. St. Brown and Williams will almost certainly be 2023 Lions starters. It is unclear if Chark will be in the team’s post-2022 plans. The former Jaguars second-rounder, who signed a one-year deal worth $10MM in March, missed almost all of last season with a broken ankle. An injury to that same ankle has shelved Chark this year. After initially leaving him on their 53-man roster, the Lions moved Chark to IR. He has seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown in his Detroit debut.

Okwara, 27, remains attached to the three-year, $37MM deal he signed in 2021. The Lions have rostered the elder Okwara since 2018, when they claimed him off waivers from the Giants. He has 10- and 7.5-sack seasons on his Detroit resume, with the 10-sack campaign in 2020 prompting the Lions to re-sign him. The seventh-year edge rusher has not yet seen extended run with younger brother Julian, whom the Lions drafted in the 2020 third round.

Both Chark and Romeo Okwara can be moved onto the Lions’ 53-man roster at any point over the next three weeks. Residing on Detroit’s reserve/NFI list, Williams would have the same timeline once he returns to practice. The Lions are in fairly good shape, activation-wise, holding five going into Week 11.

Lions Notes: Williams, Goff, Smith, Vaitai

The Lions have dealt with a number of injuries on offense, including a notable one suffered even before the draft. Rookie wideout Jameson Williams has yet to play this year, as he continues to recover from the torn ACL he suffered in the CFP title game.

midseason return was once the team’s target, but plans have changed with respect to his timeframe. Head coach Dan Campbell echoed confidence that the Alabama product will see the field in 2022, but that will not come any time soon.

“There’s still hope,” Campbell said, via Justin Rodgers of the Detroit News“There again, he’s put together a pretty good month, a real good month. So we feel like we’re going to have him before this season’s out. It’s hard to say when that’s going to be. I would say at least probably another month. But I do feel like we’re going to get him before this is said and done.”

The Lions currently have DJ Chark on IR, but Campbell insisted that a lack of depth at the position will not play a role in the team’s handling of the highly-touted Williams with respect to his return. Here are some other notes from the Motor City:

  • 2022 was widely considered the year in which the Lions decided whether or not Jared Goff could be a long-term solution at the quarterback position. To date, the 28-year-old has committed nine turnovers (six interceptions and three fumbles) this season, giving him a total of 23 in 20 games in Detroit. Not surprisingly, then, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes that no one in the organization “truly believes Goff is the quarterback of the future” (subscription required). The Lions are one of only two teams in the league with a one-win record (1-5), so they are on track to have a top choice in next April’s draft. That will give them a prime opportunity to find a franchise signal-caller amongst this year’s celebrated class of prospects; in doing so, they could move on from Goff, who has no guaranteed money remaining on his deal after this year.
  • Saivion Smith suffered a neck injury during the team’s lopsided loss to the Patriots in Week 5. As a result, the former UDFA will undergo neck fusion surgery next month, Birkett tweets. Smith, 24, confirmed that he did not suffer a concussion on the play, but is still facing a lengthy recovery after the procedure. His absence will be felt in Detroit’s much-maligned secondary.
  • Halapoulivaati Vaitai is, of course, dealing with injury troubles of his own. The starting o-lineman continues to recover from back surgery, and is unlikely to see the field in 2022. The degree to which he is able to return to previous health and form could go a long way in determining his financial future, since, like Goff, no guaranteed compensation remains on the final two years of his contract. The 29-year-old agreed to a move affecting the books in 2022, though; ESPN’s Field Yates reports that the Lions have restructured Vaitai’s deal, creating roughly $2.4MM in cap space (Twitter link). In advance of Tuesday’s trade deadline, Detroit has just over $3MM in available funds, though their placement at the bottom of the NFC certainly points to the team being sellers, rather than buyers, on the market.

WR Notes: Lions, Burks, Broncos, Giants

The Lions are leading the NFL in scoring, having hit 35 points in three of their four games. They did so Sunday without Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift and have been playing without their No. 12 overall draft choice all season. As expected, Jameson Williams will not return to practice when first eligible. Dan Campbell confirmed the first-round pick is improving but added “several weeks” remain before practices enter the equation, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit has a Week 6 bye. Campbell said it will be “a good time after” that point before the team considers Williams practicing.

An Ohio State recruit who broke through after transferring to Alabama in 2021, Williams is rehabbing the ACL tear he sustained in the national championship game. The previously mentioned midseason return, which would give Williams nearly 10 months of rehab, may not quite cover it. But the Lions are understandably playing the long game here. They are not exactly primed to contend in 2022 and could have Williams under team control through 2026, via the fifth-year option. Once Williams’ practice window is opened, the Lions have 21 days to activate him from their reserve/NFI list.

Here is the latest from the receiver scene:

  • Turf toe will pause Treylon Burks‘ rookie season. While Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the Titans receiver is not set to undergo surgery, he will miss time (Twitter link). This absence is expected to extend beyond a couple of weeks, per Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed. That would open the door to an IR stint. Turf toe can be a nagging issue, and this ailment has cropped up after Burks cleared some offseason hurdles to put together a somewhat promising start. Burks bounced on and off the field during the offseason for the Titans, with an asthma issue contributing to his missing minicamp. Despite the first-round pick not starting Tennessee’s opener, he caught seven passes for 102 yards over his team’s first two games. The Arkansas alum will look to build on that upon return.
  • Staying with the 2022 receiver draft class, the Commanders are set to be without their first-round pick for a stretch. A hamstring injury will likely sideline Jahan Dotson for at least two games, Ron Rivera said. Dotson has proven to be a solid contributor early, catching three touchdown passes in four weeks.
  • The Broncos, who have now lost two skill-position starters to season-ending ACL tears, are planning to elevate K.J. Hamler‘s role. Nathaniel Hackett said the 2020 second-round pick is a player the team must involve more in its game plans, via the Denver Post’s Parker Gabriel (on Twitter). Although Hamler caught a well-placed 55-yard pass in Week 4 to set up a Denver touchdown, he played four snaps in Las Vegas. Considering the Broncos are without Tim Patrick for the season, Hamler not seeing much action surprises. But the Penn State-developed speedster suffered an ACL tear and a hip injury — one the Broncos feared was a Bo Jackson-type malady — in Week 3 last season. With the team holding him out in Week 2 because of his previous injury, Hamler is still attempting to surmount that setback. During this process, the Broncos have used Kendall Hinton as their No. 3 wideout.
  • Sterling Shepard confirmed (via The Athletic’s Dan Duggan, on Twitter) he did not suffer any damage beyond his ACL tear, though the seventh-year Giants wideout estimated his tear actually occurred two plays before he went down. Shepard, who will undergo surgery this month, agreed to a pay cut to stay this offseason — which followed a 2021 Achilles tear. This latest injury could put the former second-round pick’s career in jeopardy.

WR Notes: Toney, Rams, Lions, Cards, Cooks

The Giants will enter their Week 4 game with Richie James, David Sills and Kenny Golladay as their top available wide receivers. Wan’Dale Robinson will miss a third straight game, while Kadarius Toney will be out for a second. The Toney-Giants relationship is steadily deteriorating. This regime is “clearly” not high on the Dave Gettleman-era first-round pick, Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports writes. Repeated injury problems have slowed Toney with the Giants, who saw the Eagles trade in front of them to nab DeVonta Smith last year. Reports connected the Giants to the Heisman winner ahead of last year’s draft. Toney will have missed nine career games by Sunday, due to various lower-body ailments, and the current Giants regime’s Golladay handling shows it is not afraid to bury bad investments. It would seem Darius Slayton — another player who has not impressed the current staff, leading to trade buzz — will see more run in Week 4, but Vacchiano adds the Giants will likely be looking for at least two new wideouts in 2023. Toney joined Slayton in being linked in trade rumors, albeit briefly, this offseason. Robinson, a second-round rookie, appears the only lock to be back.

Here is the latest from the receiver scene around the league:

  • Allen Robinson flashed often during Rams training camp, and determining this signing will fail after three games is ill-advised. But early indications are Robinson’s 2021 Bears performance was not an outlier. The veteran dropped a touchdown pass against the Cardinals and has just seven catches for 88 yards with Los Angeles. The Rams came in with a monster offer — three years, $46.5MM; $30MM fully guaranteed — to sign the former Jaguars and Bears wideout, using their cap space on the ninth-year player after Von Miller chose the Bills. Other teams were interested in Robinson, albeit at lower price points, but SI.com’s Albert Breer notes teams did not like what Robinson put on tape. That is not exactly surprising, considering how badly Robinson’s final Bears season (38 receptions, 410 yards, one touchdown) went. But the early returns on Robinson’s Rams deal are not promising. Rams-Odell Beckham Jr. connections will likely continue.
  • The Lions are being patient with Jameson Williams, who is recovering from an ACL tear sustained during the national championship game. Williams is on Detroit’s reserve/NFI list, and while the first-round wideout could return in Week 5, he will not. The Alabama product is likelier to be back in early November, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press posits. Williams recently posted a video of him running and cutting. A second-half return has always been rumored for Williams, whom the Lions traded up 20 spots to draft. But no setbacks having occurred here obviously represents a good sign for the rebuilding franchise.
  • The Cardinals‘ receiving corps will not be at full strength until at least Week 7, when DeAndre Hopkins is eligible to return from his PED suspension. But the team may have one of its previously unavailable weapons in uniform Sunday. Rondale Moore is tracking toward returning from his hamstring injury, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. The 2021 second-rounder, who caught 54 passes for 435 yards as a rookie, has missed Arizona’s first three games. He managed three limited practices this week. Marquise Brown, who suffered a foot injury in Week 3, is also likely to play. A.J. Green will miss Week 4 with a knee injury.
  • After Brandin Cooks played one game on the base salary he locked in by signing a two-year, $39.76MM extension in April, the Texans converted $831K of that base into a signing bonus. The Texans saved $554K with the move, Wilson notes. Cooks’ salary is down to $1.17MM; it spikes to $18MM next year. Cooks, who is now on his third contract, is signed through 2024.

Lions Hoping For Midseason Jameson Williams Return

The Lions made the expected move of shifting Jameson Williams to their reserve/non-football injury list Tuesday. The first-round pick tore an ACL in the national championship game and was never expected to start the season on time.

Detroit is, however, hoping for a midseason Williams debut, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Williams, this year’s No. 12 overall pick, must miss at least four games because of Tuesday’s transaction.

GM Brad Holmes greenlit a 20-spot trade-up in the first round for Williams, who dominated in his one season at Alabama. After sitting behind Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Co. at Ohio State, Williams transferred and became the Crimson Tide’s top pass catcher in 2021. The import speedster caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns, teaming with John Metchie to help Bryce Young win the Heisman Trophy. Both receivers went down, however, before season’s end. Metchie, chosen 44th overall by the Texans, will not play in 2022, announcing a leukemia diagnosis.

Amon-Ra St. Brown and D.J. Chark reside as Jared Goff‘s top wideouts to start the season, but if Williams’ rehab goes according to plan, the Lions should be able to see a handful of games from their highest-drafted receiver since Calvin Johnson (2007).

The Lions also placed edge defenders Romeo Okwara and Josh Paschal and fullback Jason Cabinda on the reserve/PUP list, sidelining the trio for the season’s first four games. Okwara suffered a torn Achilles in Week 4 of last season. During spring workouts, Paschal aggravated a core injury initially sustained while at Kentucky and underwent offseason surgery. The Lions will be careful with their second-round pick, leaving Aidan Hutchinson as the only first- or second-round Detroit draftee set for September action.

Lions Place Three Players On PUP, Two On NFI List

The Lions are the latest team to announce the list of players who will be sidelined for the start of training camp this week. An announcement on their website confirms three additions to the active/PUP list, and a pair of players who are now on the non-football injury list. 

Included among the former group is edge rusher Romeo OkwaraThe 27-year-old was limited to just four games played in 2021, as he suffered a torn Achilles in October. That marked a disappointing start to the three-year extension he signed the previous offseason, and left his training camp availability very much in doubt. When he returns, he will look to return to his 2020 form, in which he totalled a career-high 10 sacks.

Another key defender on the shelf is cornerback Jerry Jacobs. In his rookie season last year, the Arkansas alum started nine of 13 games as Jeff Okudah‘s campaign was limited to a single contest. Jacobs registered a 61% snap share before himself suffering a torn ACL in December. He should be in line for a significant role once again this season.

Second-round rookie Josh Paschal is the final inclusion on the PUP list. He was sidelined during spring workouts, though it is unclear if today’s move is the result of complications recovering from that injury, or of a new one. Head coach Dan Campbell said, “We’re trying to be smart with him,” adding that Paschal has “got a lower extremity injury.” The Kentucky product will feature in the team’s new-look defensive front when he is back on the field, which should be the case soon.

The situation is different, of course, for rookie wideout Jameson WilliamsThe No. 12 overall pick suffered an ACL tear in the national title game (which is why he is being placed on the NFI list, rather than PUP). General manager Brad Holmes recently spoke about his and the team’s optimism that a full recovery will be made. That likely won’t happen in time for the start of the regular season, but when he does make his debut, the Alabama product will add a dynamic speed element to Detroit’s passing attack.

The other NFI inclusion is linebacker Natrez Patrick, who signed as a free agent after spending the past two seasons with the Rams. He, like any of the other four players, can be activated at any time before the regular season kicks off.

Latest On Lions’ Jameson Williams Process

The clubhouse leaders for first-round wide receiver picks during the 2000s, the Lions passed on such investments from 2008-2021. But second-year GM Brad Holmes gave his team a potential impact wideout talent this year, trading up for Jameson Williams at No. 12 overall.

This move cost the Lions the Nos. 32 and 34 overall picks, along with a third-rounder, though the team added the Vikings’ No. 46 overall selection. Holmes addressed why Williams both convinced him to trade up 20 spots and to deviate from a general policy of not taking injury risks in the first round. After an April film session, the former Rams college scouting director separated Williams from the other receivers in this draft.

I had Jameson in his own box,” Holmes said, via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “You want to be as sure as possible with first-round players, of course, and I was absolutely convicted on Jameson … the speed, how fluid he was, how confident he played. I consulted with our medial team, and they felt it was a clean ACL tear.

“So now I had to get comfortable with picking an injured player. I thought, I can’t preach to our organization to be open-minded with their decisions if I’m not going to be open-minded myself.

Williams was the fourth receiver taken this year, going behind Drake London and ex-Ohio State teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. After hauling in 79 receptions for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns, the Alabama transfer suffered an ACL tear in the national championship game. Were it not for that injury, the slender speedster would have been in the conversation to be the first wideout chosen. Williams, 21, had made it back to that tier anyway, going four spots after London.

The injury likely to keep Williams out for a chunk of his rookie Lions season; he is expected to begin training camp on Detroit’s active/PUP list. Beginning the season on the reserve/PUP list would result in Williams missing at least four games. Given the long-term investment the Lions made, Williams starting the regular season on the PUP list appears likely.

Holmes did not hesitate in trading with a division rival, per King, saying the deal made “a ton of sense for both teams.” Minnesota chose Georgia safety Lewis Cine at No. 32 and traded the No. 34 choice to another division rival, Green Bay, to collect additional second-round capital. The Vikings ended up with Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth, after a Colts trade-up, and LSU guard Ed Ingram.

The Lions, who famously took top-10 wideouts in three straight drafts (Charles Rodgers, Roy Williams, Mike Williams) before hitting big on Calvin Johnson two years later, have made their move for a receiver centerpiece. Jameson Williams should help Jared Goff, who will also have free agent DJ Chark to target this season, but Williams should be expected to be a key starter alongside Goff’s successor. Williams can be kept under Lions control through 2026, via the fifth-year option. Amon-Ra St. Brown is signed through 2024. With two first-round picks in the 2023 draft, which is viewed as far superior to this year’s quarterback class, Holmes and Co. figure to have that position on their front-burner next April.

Lions Notes: QB2, Williams, Sosna

The Lions passed on adding a quarterback in this year’s draft, and they will go into the 2022 season with Jared Goff as their starting signal-caller. Behind Goff on the depth chart are Tim Boyle and David Blough, both of whom re-signed with the club in March.

Boyle, who joined the Packers as a UDFA in 2018 and who signed with the Lions last offseason after Green Bay non-tendered him as a restricted free agent, started the first three games of his career in 2021 in relief of an injured Goff. Detroit went 0-3 in those contests, and Boyle completed 64.9% of his passes for three TDs against six interceptions. Blough, meanwhile, has been in the Motor City since he was acquired in a minor trade with the Browns in advance of the 2019 campaign. He has not started a game since that 2019 season, when he went 0-5 with a 64.0 QB rating and a 4:6 TD:INT ratio.

Obviously, the club’s QB2 options are less than inspiring, but the battle between Boyle and Blough will be meaningful for both players as they attempt to extend their NFL careers. And head coach Dan Campbell said it will be an open competition when training camp begins next month, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes.

“Competition is great thing,” Campbell said. “I respect what both of them did this spring. That’s what I love about both of them. I know they are going out there to compete against each other.”

Now for several more Lions-related items:

  • As expected, rookie wideout Jameson Williams will not be on the field when training camp opens, as Birkett writes in a separate piece. Per Birkett, Williams — who tore his ACL in the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship Game in January — is likely to begin camp on the active PUP list, which is consistent with earlier reporting on the matter. If he has not been medically cleared when the regular season begins, he will revert to the reserve PUP list and will be required to miss at least the first six weeks of the season. The Lions are not expected to be a playoff outfit in 2022, and GM Brad Holmes has stated that Williams will be brought along slowly. Given his vast potential, which compelled Holmes to make an aggressive trade up the draft board from No. 32 to No. 12 to land the Alabama star, a conservative approach makes sense. Holmes does expect Williams to suit up for the club this season, though that might not be until November, and Campbell conceded that Williams will spend most of the summer rehabbing. Given all of that, a reserve PUP list designation appears to be the most likely outcome here.
  • The Lions have hired Brandon Sosna as senior director of football administration, according to Pete Thamel of ESPN.com. Sosna, who worked as a salary-cap and contract analyst for the Browns from 2017-18, had served as the right-hand man to USC athletic director Mike Bohn since 2019. The Trojans reportedly made a strong push to retain Sosna, but the opportunity to rejoin the NFL ranks was too appealing for the UPenn alumnus to turn down.
  • Yesterday, Lions DL John Penisini announced his retirement.
  • Our Adam La Rose recently profiled Lions TE T.J. Hockenson as an extension candidate.

Lions Sign Round 1 WR Jameson Williams

Jameson Williams agreed to terms on his fully guaranteed rookie contract Thursday, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The Lions now have both their 2022 first-rounders signed, after having inked No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson to his rookie deal earlier this week.

The No. 12 overall pick, Williams will be tied to his rookie deal for at least three seasons and can be under Lions control through 2026 (via the fifth-year option). He is set to earn around $17.5MM on this contract.

Detroit traded its Nos. 32 and 34 picks to Minnesota to climb up for Williams, who zoomed onto the draft radar after his dominant season at Alabama. Williams joins DJ Chark as key offseason receiver additions for a Lions team that featured one of the NFL’s worst wideout situations in 2021.

Playing behind the likes of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave at Ohio State, Williams transferred to an Alabama squad that had just lost DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. The Crimson Tide put the slender speedster to work immediately, and Williams posted a monster season — 79 receptions, 1,572 yards, 15 touchdowns — as a junior to help the SEC powerhouse to another national championship game.

The torn ACL Williams suffered in that loss to Georgia did not impact his draft stock much, but the 179-pound pass catcher is expected to begin the season on the PUP list. Many NFL evaluators expect Williams to be out until November, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, though the rebuilding Lions are likely fine playing the long game with the recovering prospect.

In addition to signing Williams, the Lions and third-round safety Kerby Joseph agreed on the terms of his rookie contract. The Lions took Jones 97th overall out of Illinois. His four-year deal is worth just more than $5MM, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes.