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What Jamaal Williams brings to Lions' backfield

The Detroit Lions have high expectations for running back D’Andre Swift heading into his second season in 2021.

The Lions eased Swift into his rookie season after he missed most of training camp with a hip injury, but by midseason he was one of Detroit's most dynamic players on offense. Swift finished the year rushing 114 times for 521 yards (4.6 average) with eight touchdowns, along with 46 receptions for 357 yards (7.8 avg.) and two more scores. His 10 total touchdowns were tied for fourth among all rookies, and that's with Swift missing three games due to concussion symptoms and illness. 

While the excitement for what kind of production Swift could provide in year two is high for the Lions, general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell also understand that Swift can't do it alone. There are very few backs in the league that can carry the load in the running game by themselves.

It's one of the big reasons the Lions opted to get Swift some help this offseason by signing veteran Jamaal Williams in free agency. Lions fans should know Williams well, as he's spent the last four years in the NFC North with Green Bay.

Williams has rushed for at least 460 yards in each of his four seasons as the No. 2 back in Green Bay, averaging 4.0 yards per carry in the process. He's also caught at least 30 passes in each of the last two seasons in Green Bay's offense. Swift, Williams and Kerryon Johnson are all good receivers out of the backfield for Detroit.

"I mean, the fact that Jamaal, A, he's in this division. We know him well," Campbell said. "But we get to play Green Bay twice and the energy and the style of play that he brings, man, he energizes your offense. He energizes your team. That was important for us, that was important for me. I think you've got to have a halfback that can energize your offense."

Williams missed only four games in four seasons in Green Bay, and has never fumbled.

"I go for the whole game," Williams told Detroit media last week. "That's what you're going to get from me. I'm not going to take any plays off. I enjoy every minute of it. I'm going to make my team better."

Williams, along with Johnson, form an experienced and versatile backfield for the Lions. Johnson dealt with knee issues in each of his first two seasons, but was available for all 16 games last season and rushed for a couple scores with a 3.5-yard average per rush. He was also one of the best blocking backs in the league last year, which has value.

But in Williams, the Lions have added an experienced, durable and versatile weapon to pair with Swift.

"We love (D'Andre) Swift," Campbell said. "We think Swift's going to grow into something pretty special, but you've got to have another back. This guy (Williams) will bring an element that we need, you know?"

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