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.
A 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.