NOTEBOOK: Lions convert Michael Williams to tackle

Posted May 21, 2014

The Lions like Michael Williams’ blocking so much that they’re converting the tight end to offensive tackle.

Michael Williams was the best blocking tight end to come out of the 2013 NFL Draft, which is one of the reasons the Lions liked him so much in the seventh round.

The team likes Williams’ blocking so much, in fact, they’re converting the tight end to offensive tackle.
Michael WilliamsT Michael Williams (Photo: Gavin Smith)

“He’s a guy with size and he’s athletic and it’s one of those things, too, where the guy had to fight to keep his weight down,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said of Williams. “He came back and he was somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. You don’t see too many 300-pound tight ends. He’s a big guy.”

Williams has the frame to play tackle at 6-foot-6, but will likely have to add some more bulk. He said he’s currently at 283 pounds and is on a regimen to pack on more.

“We’ve been talking about this for a while it was just up to me to make that decision,” Williams said. “I just felt like I could prolong my career this way. My style of tight end has not been used as much in the NFL.

“It’s just about me building my muscles and not just trying to gain weight. You have to gain the right weight.”

It’s a good opportunity for Williams, who would have had a tough time making the roster at tight end with Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria.

The Lions, however, have an opening for a fourth tackle behind Riley Reiff, LaAdrian Waddle and Corey Hilliard. Undrafted free agent Cornelius Lucas is one of the favorites to land the job, but Williams will be in the mix and have a chance to win a roster spot in camp.

Caldwell said Williams has the potential to be a very athletic tackle.

“I was on a team where Chris Hinton was a tight end, actually. Chris Hinton was a tight end and moved from tight end to tackle and had an outstanding career (seven Pro Bowls),” Caldwell said.

“Another one I was around, just so happened I was at Louisville, we had Bruce Armstrong, who was also a tight end. One of those guys who was a big guy. He moved to tackle and played a number of years with New England (six Pro Bowls).

“I think Mike is going to be one of those guys who can help us if he can develop.”


Ndamukong Suh was back in a Lions uniform for OTAs, but he was missing his right-hand man in Nick Fairley.

Caldwell told reporters Tuesday night at the Taste of the Lions event that Fairley has a medical issue he’s dealing with and will be back as soon as he’s recovered.


Receiver Golden Tate wasn’t at Lions OTA practice Tuesday, but he had a pretty legit excuse.

Tate is in Washington visiting the White House with the rest of his former Seattle Seahawks teammates from last season. President Barack Obama is honoring the Seahawks as defending Super Bowl champions on Wednesday.

“I think that’s an important moment,” Caldwell said. “I had the great pleasure of going to the White House on a couple of occasions and having an opportunity to shake the President’s hand, and not only that, enjoy something that’s highly unusual, that’s hard to do, that’s very difficult to do.

"You don’t know exactly when you’ll be there the next time or if you’ll ever get there again. You just don’t know that. There are no guarantees. And for him to miss out on that opportunity, I thought, would not be good.”


The Lions were without Fairley, Tate, running back Joique Bell, cornerback Chris Houston, defensive end Kourtnei Brown, defensive end Ziggy Ansah, cornerback Chris Greenwood and linebacker Brandon Hepburn.

Defensive end Jason Jones, safety Glover Quin and guard Rob Sims were all limited in practice.