'We want Jamo': Lions' Jameson Williams has quiet NFL debut
Detroit — They started in the second half, faint at first, but progressively louder as time went on. As the Detroit Lions pulled away from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, the Ford Field crowd chanted, "We want Jamo."
Not initially expected to debut this week, Lions rookie receiver Jameson Williams showed enough in his first full week of practice that the team added him to the active roster Saturday. But, in what could have been predicted based on the team's previous reintegration of injured players into the lineup, Williams only played a handful of snaps against the Jaguars.
"Honestly, today was just about getting his legs under him, go through pregame, be on the sideline, you got your pads on, run into a huddle, run out, line up, wrestle with someone one-on-one a little bit," Lions coach Dan Campbell said. "It was really that, just to get him somewhat acclimated, very much like we did Jerry Jacobs in Dallas. That’s really what this was. He’s going to get a little bit more next week. This was just primer for him."
Williams, like Jacobs, was coming back from a torn ACL. In that Dallas game, the cornerback was on the field for eight snaps, seven of which came on special teams.
Williams first couple of snaps were short-yardage runs, where he wasn't involved in the plays' outcomes. But each time he stepped between the lines, the crowd perked up, eager to see what the speedy first-round pick might do. Ultimately, he was shut out on the box score, failing to haul in his lone target, a well-covered deep throw down the right sideline.
"Had the one shot on the go ball, wish I could connect with it, but it was good to get a rep with him there," quarterback Jared Goff said. "It’ll progress from here. It’ll (be) more, probably next week. How much, I don’t know, but make sure he’s dialed in on his packages and he’ll do a great job."
Detroit had also planned to use Williams on special teams, as a gunner on punt coverage. The only problem there is they never punted in the 40-14 victory over Jacksonville. He often served as a gunner for the University of Alabama and it sounds like the team is eager to utilize his speed in that role, at least until he carves out a bigger role on offense.
"We felt like that was the biggest impact he could have today," Campbell said. "We knew just outright because he can run. And he can do it, he’s tough, he’s physical, and he was all for it."
Now that he's back, the biggest challenge for Williams might be patience. Teammate DJ Chark, who has served as a sounding board and mentor for the rookie throughout this year, said he'll continue to remind Williams his time is coming.
"As a teammate, I'm here to let him know that's part of the game," Chark said. "The biggest part is it's a blessing to be out there. He's young, has a long career (ahead of him). Whether it takes off this game, next game, next season, it's going to happen. And when it does, just having this feeling of hunger that I'm pretty sure that he has is going to take him a long way.
"...Once he catches on, I know for a fact, once you get into your rhythm, it's hard to be stopped, and he's that type of player," Chark said. "Once we can implement him in more, it only helps the rest of us. When we have games like this and then you add him into the mix, it's like, who are you going to guard?"