No block. No rock.
That was the message Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson had for second-year wide receiver Jameson Williams in a meeting two days ago.
That message was received loud and clear by Williams, who threw a terrific block on defensive back Will Harris in a team period at Lions training camp practice Monday that sprung a long run down the left sideline by Jahmyr Gibbs.
Williams took the message to heart because he wants the rock when the opportunity presents itself. It's just one of the aspects of Williams' game the Lions are trying to develop to help make him a more complete receiver.
Everyone knows about his world-class speed and big-play ability. Those are the big reasons why the Lions spent the No. 12 overall pick on Williams in the 2022 NFL Draft. But adding strength, refining his route running and being a consistent and willing blocker are just a few of the things that can help Williams round out his game and help him make good on the promise the Lions see in him.
Williams missed all of last offseason and all of training camp as he was rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in college. He only played in six games as a rookie and still has a lot to learn and develop.
"I'm just proud of being out here," Williams said after practice Monday. "Getting a chance to put my cleats on, shoulder pads, helmet, catch footballs and block. Just play football. Last year I was standing on the sideline in a shirt, no cleats, no jersey, no nothing. Just exciting to be out here."
Unfortunately, Williams will also miss the team's first six games this season due to a suspension. The next four weeks are super important for Williams before he has to be away from the team to start the regular season. How much he can grow and improve over the next two weeks of joint practices and in the three preseason games will go a long way in determining how he hits the ground running when he's welcomed back off suspension Week 7.
"I'm just hoping to go put a show on with my team," Williams said of the next month of work. "I've just worked on my game completely so you're going to see a lot coming from me."
One thing that's been evident through the first eight practices of training camp is the depth that's emerging on the edge for the Lions' defense. Aidan Hutchinson and Charles Harris are getting a lot of the first-team reps, but Josh Paschal, John Cominsky, James Houston, Romeo Okwara and Julian Okwara have worked in and have all made splash plays early in camp.
It's a good problem for defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.
"That's something I think about quite a lot to be honest with you, like how do you utilize each player and how can you have different packages with those guys in, and who do you put together to be able to schematically do things that you want to do," Glenn said Monday.
"So, we're going to continue to do that. I actually love being able to do that because I love being able to see how I can get offense to react to certain packages that's in and we've been doing a pretty good job of that with the guys we have."
Rookie defensive back Brian Branch is going to make it hard for Glenn and the Lions to take him off the field if he continues to develop at the pace he's currently on.
Branch is not only physical in the box but has great instincts, movement and cover skills to boot. Through the first eight practices he certainly looks like he belongs, and he's been getting plenty of run at the nickel when the team shifts C.J. Gardner-Johnson into a safety role.
"I love his game, man," Williams said of Branch, his former teammate at Alabama. "He's been out here working. When Brad (Holmes) drafted him, I texted (Holmes) and was like, 'He's a dog.' I love BB (Branch). When we played at Alabama together, he just showed me something you don't see from a lot of DBs. He could play in the box, and he can come out here and guard somebody so that's real good. I love BB's game."
- Veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. was taken off the NFI list and returned to practice in a limited fashion on Monday after dealing with a back injury to start camp.
- Glenn on a conversation he had with defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike, who missed all of last season with a back injury and who has been present for all eight practices so far in Lions camp this offseason: "I said, 'Levi, listen, if you're going to do this, then let's go all in. Let's go all in. Let's go play,' and he said, 'I'm with you coach,' and that showed up in practice."