Lions don't expect rookie Jameson Williams to be ready for start of training camp

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions aren't expecting to have one of their two first-round picks at the start of next month's training camp. 

According to coach Dan Campbell, rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams isn't expected to be far enough along in his rehab from a torn ACL suffered in January to participate at the start of camp. 

As the team breaks for summer following next week's final OTA practices, Williams is planning to stick around the Lions practice facility so that his rehab can be closely managed by the team. 

"He's gonna be around, he's gonna be around here with us, and in the short period in which he does go home, we know where he's gonna be and who those people are," Campbell said  "With that being said, I don't see him being ready for training camp. I don't see that. I'm very hopeful, but I don't see it. We're going to do this thing the right way and when he's ready, he'll be ready, but no, I don't feel like you're gonna see him out there day one."

Lions receiver Jameson Williams has been present at OTAs and minicamp, but has not participated in drills.

While he acknowledged the importance of camp practices for a young, developing player, the coach said ensuring Williams is healthy enough to practice takes precedence. 

"We want to get him out there as fast as possible," Campbell said. "It is crucial, but not until he gets his strength up. He needs a lot of strength development in that body, his lower extremities, his legs, his knees, everything. So, until he's able to stabilize himself and really get some strength that we feel good about, to where he can protect himself, he can protect that knee and he can compete, and compete at a high level, or we're not gonna put him out there."

The Lions traded up for Williams in the first round of April's draft, climbing from No. 32 to No. 12 to snag the Alabama standout who posted 79 catches for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns in his one season at the school. It's likely Williams would have been drafted even earlier had he not torn his ACL in January's National Championship game against Georgia. 

Prior to the draft, Williams was reportedly ahead of schedule with his rehab, and after the Lions selected him, he noted his goal was to be ready for camp. Although he hasn't been participating in the team's OTA and minicamp practices in recent weeks, he's been on the sideline for each season, absorbing all the mental reps. 

"Oh, he’s engaged," Campbell said during last month's minicamp. "We put him out there on the grass and that’s his domain. He’s very much engaged. You ask him questions, he’s got the script, he’s on it. In meetings, he’s very engaged. He asks good questions."

The Lions will likely place Williams on the physically unable to perform list at the start of camp. If he carries that designation into the regular season, he will be required to miss the first four games and would be able to return for the Week 5 matchup against New England.