Detroit Lions rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams is one step closer to making his NFL debut.
The team activated Williams off the Reserve/NFI list to the active roster on Saturday, along with veteran defensive lineman Romeo Okwara, who was on the Reserve/PUP list rehabbing a torn Achilles. To make room on 53-man roster for Williams and Okwara, the team placed linebacker Julian Okwara (elbow) on Reserve/Injured.
The Lions host the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field Sunday, and we'll see 90 minutes before kickoff if either player is active for the game.
Okwara led the Lions with 10.0 sacks in 2020 but was lost to an Achilles injury last year suffered in Week 4. He returned to practice a couple weeks ago and when he's ready to play, it should be a big boost for Detroit's pass rush abilities on defense.
Williams has been rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in the National Championship Game while at Alabama back in January. The Lions moved up 20 spots in this year's NFL Draft to select Williams No. 12 overall, and he's done nothing but impress teammates and coaches since returning to practice Thanksgiving week.
"Certainly, the speed does pop out," Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said. "Hopefully we can keep getting him more reps, and as he's getting acclimated, and we'll see where that takes us.
"But honestly, I've been more impressed in anything – once he gets in between those white lines, his demeanor is all about football. It's what we thought we were getting when we drafted him back in the spring, and that's held true. The guy loves the game, and you can just see him light up, and he's all about ball."
Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns last season for Alabama. Four of those 15 touchdowns came from 70-plus yards, while the other 11 were all from 30-plus yards. He's a big play waiting to happen.
Watching him during the open portion of practice recently, it's easy to see why people are excited for his return. He moves different. He glides, like a gazelle almost. He's effortlessly fast, if that makes sense.
"I feel real good," Williams said this week of getting back to practice. "Feeling back to myself. I got a chance to get out there and get some routes and run some plays with the team and do a little bit, so I'm feeling really good right now."
The biggest hurdle Williams and the Lions had to face before activating him was to feel good about the chemistry he's built with quarterback Jared Goff. Johnson said they were in a race to get that chemistry to a point where they could activate Williams.
"I feel like it's been coming along really well," Williams said of the chemistry after a couple days of practice with Goff. "Me and Goff have been talking a lot of what would happen on this play if I was in? What would this be like? I feel like it takes some time, but it'll be good for sure."
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Williams says he doesn't feel any rust and is "running real fast right now," which is certainly good news for the Lions.
Detroit's offense currently ranks eighth in points per game (25.0), eighth in total offense (362.9) and 12th in passing (233.5). They're finally healthy at receiver with DJ Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds all back together after missing time, and now they can add arguably the most explosive player in this year's draft into the mix.
"He's fast," Goff said of Williams. "He's very fast. He's very, very fast."