NFL

Lions rookie WR Williams expected to miss start of training camp

By Sports Desk June 09, 2022

Detroit Lions rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams likely will not be cleared to practice when the team begins training camp in July, head coach Dan Campbell told reporters on Thursday.

Williams, the number 12 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee the former Alabama All-American suffered in the College Football Playoff national championship game in January.

"I don't see him being ready for training camp, I don't see that," Campbell said following the Lions' mini-camp practice.

"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 going to see him out there day one."

The Lions remain optimistic that Williams will be ready for the team's season opener on September 11, although offensive coordinator Ben Johnson recently acknowledged the possibility of scaling back the young speedster's role early on as he gets acclimated.

Johnson told the Detroit Free Press last week Williams' situation differs from that of fellow wide receiver Josh Reynolds, who joined the Lions midway through last season and immediately was installed into the team's receiver rotation.

Reynolds was a veteran player who had a familiarity with quarterback Jared Goff, as the two were team-mates with the Los Angeles Rams for four seasons.

"It's going to be a challenge because you can't really compare it to the Josh Reynolds situation from last year," Johnson said. "We didn't really know him and what he necessarily did best, but at least there was a comfort level between him and the quarterback, and we don't have that [with Williams].

"That's a real struggle for us. [The aim] is to get him back, to get him healthy, and then as many reps as possible with the quarterbacks so that we know exactly where he's going to be, we can anticipate the throw."

ACL injuries typically require eight-to-nine months to completely recover from, which would have Williams at full strength right around the start of the season.

The Lions were not deterred by the injury, as they traded up 20 spots with NFC North rival the Minnesota Vikings to choose Williams with the number 12 pick. The 21-year-old was one of six wide receivers taken in the first 18 selections.

Williams established himself as an elite prospect during his lone season at Alabama, becoming one of college football's most explosive receivers after transferring from Ohio State. His 15 touchdown receptions in 2021 tied for third in the FBS and he led the Crimson Tide with 1,572 receiving yards on 79 catches.

Nine of Williams' 15 touchdown catches were from 40 or more yards, leading the FBS last season, while his 11 receptions of 40 or more yards tied for second among major college players.

"He's a special talent," Goff said. "I know they're going to make sure he's as healthy as possible, but selfishly, I want him back as soon as possible."

Related items

  • New York Jets offensive lineman Mekhi Becton's season 'more than likely' over New York Jets offensive lineman Mekhi Becton's season 'more than likely' over

    The fear over the severity of New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton's right knee injury have become a reality.

    Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters on Tuesday that Becton suffered a kneecap fracture during Monday's practice and his season is "more than likely" over.

    Becton has been diagnosed with an avulsion fracture in the knee, according to NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, and will see a surgeon on Wednesday.

    ''It's probably the inevitable,'' Saleh said of the severity of the injury.

    The Jets were initially optimistic about the injury, with Saleh saying after Monday's practice that: "it doesn’t seem like it's a big deal," but the outlook changed later in the evening after the results of an MRI.

    Saleh said he feels "sick" for Becton, who missed the final 16 games of the 2021 season after dislocating his right kneecap in the season opener, and defended the oft-injured 23-year-old after he arrived at training camp healthy and in acceptable shape after battling weight issues following surgery in September.

    "His story's not over. He's got full support of this organisation," Saleh added. "And if you're a fan that wants to support him, you're more than welcome, otherwise just keep it moving."

    The 11th overall pick of the 2020 draft, Becton started 13 games at left tackle as a rookie and began last season at the position before getting hurt.

    In need of depth on the offensive line, the Jets signed veteran guard Caleb Benenoch and guard Chris Glaser on Tuesday.

    Free-agent tackle Duane Brown, a five-time Pro Bowler, visited the Jets on Saturday and could be offered a contract.

  • All-Pro LB Roquan Smith requests trade away from Bears All-Pro LB Roquan Smith requests trade away from Bears

    All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith loves the Chicago Bears, but he does not believe the feeling is mutual.

    Smith issued a statement requesting a trade on Tuesday, writing "the new front office regime doesn't value me here".

    Set to make $9.735million in the final year of his rookie contract, Smith, who represents himself, had been holding out during training camp while working towards a new deal.

    The 25-year-old, however, has become infuriated with negotiating with first-year general manager Ryan Poles and now wants out.

    "The new front office regime doesn't value me here," Smith wrote in a statement posted by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

    "They've refused to negotiate in good faith, every step of this journey has been 'take it or leave it'.

    "The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and for the entire LB market if I signed it. I've been trying to get something done that's fair since April, but their focus has been on trying to take advantage of me.

    "I wanted to be a Bear for my entire career, help this team bring a Super Bowl back to our city.

    "However, they have left me no choice than to request a trade that allows me to play for an organisation that truly values what I bring to the table."

    Selected eighth overall in the 2018 draft, Smith has been one of the league's top linebackers and was looking to be paid like one.

    Smith was reportedly offended by Chicago's backloaded offer that included de-escalators that are not in the contract of any of the other 94 non-quarterbacks making at least $15m per year.

    Smith ranked fifth in the NFL in total tackles last season with 163 to go with 12 tackles for loss to earn second-team All-Pro honours for the second straight year.

    In 61 career games, he has 538 total tackles, 43 tackles for loss and five interceptions, making him one of just three defensive players with at least 300 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and five interceptions since 2018, along with Darius Leonard and Jamie Collins Sr.

    Smith apologised to Chicago fans and implied he could possibly withdraw the trade request if team ownership can restore the fragmented relationship but said it is unlikely he will ever put on a Bears uniform again.

    "I haven't had the chance to talk to the McCaskey family, and maybe they can salvage this," he wrote, "but as of right now I don't see a path back to the organisation I truly love."

  • Burrow 'looking good' but Bengals not rushing a return Burrow 'looking good' but Bengals not rushing a return

    With less than five weeks until the start of the NFL season, Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor isn't worried about when quarterback Joe Burrow will be back on the practice field. 

    Burrow, the 2020 top overall draft pick, underwent surgery last month to remove his appendix. While he has been seen on the sidelines at Bengals practices, Burrow has yet to resume football activities. 

    "He's starting to get better every single day," Taylor said of his star signal-caller. "Again, I don't want to put a timeline on when he gets out here and starts throwing and stuff, but it's been encouraging. He's back to himself in meetings so — looking good."

    The Bengals' 2022 season opens on September 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, although Burrow is still expected to be healthy enough to start under center. 

    "He knows himself way better than we do," Taylor said. "I trust the communications with him when we're going to get him back out here.

    "We've got plenty of time before the opener and I trust that we'll have a good process in place."

    Burrow cemented his place among the game's best young quarterbacks last season, bouncing back from the knee injury that ended his rookie campaign to lead the Bengals to a 10-6 record as a starter in 2021. 

    The Bengals played in the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1988 season but lost to the Los Angeles Rams. 

    Over his last eight games of 2021, including four playoff games, Burrow threw for 16 touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 72 percent of his passes. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.