Lions WR Jameson Williams: ‘I’m real, real, real excited to put my cleats on’

ALLEN PARK — After the Lions pulled off a draft-day trade for him, Jameson Williams originally intended to wear No. 18 as an homage to Calvin Johnson, who wore the inverse of that number. But the more he thought about it, the more he wanted to wear a single-digit.

So Williams decided to pay homage to another former Lions great: John Matthew Stafford.

But before donning the No. 9, which had not been issued since Stafford was traded to the Los Angeles Rams last year, Williams texted Stafford to ask for his approval.

“I don’t remember a lot,” Williams said, “but one thing he told me is the 9 is going to be moving a lot faster on the field.”

No doubt. And after Williams was finally cleared to begin practicing on Monday, the Lions are thrilled to finally get their first look at that speed.

They haven’t practiced this week because of the short week until the Thanksgiving game against Buffalo, but Williams has participated in walk-throughs this week and got in some routes with practice-squad quarterback Tim Boyle. On Tuesday, Williams — who vowed not to speak publicly until he made his return from ACL surgery — finally opened up about his 11-month journey during a nearly 5-minute conversation in front of his locker after walk-throughs.

“A lot of down days, a lot of bad days I had to push through,” Williams said. “But I’m here now.”

Needless to say, the first-round pick is as excited as everyone else to finally get the green light to put on that No. 9.

“I’ve missed the game a lot,” Williams said. “I’m real, real, real excited to put my cleats on, to get to put my jersey on, to be able to get out there with the guys and actually be a part of the team. You feel me? It’s something I missed a lot, and I’m just happy to get back.”

Williams has been recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the national championship game with Alabama. That dinged his draft stock, although he remained the No. 1 receiver on Detroit’s board. GM Brad Holmes prized Williams’ speed for this offense. And once Williams fell to 12th overall, Holmes shipped a package of picks to Minnesota for the right to take him.

Williams has been relegated to observing practice over the last six-and-a-half months, but he was there at every practice, always with a football in one hand, often with a play sheet in the other, staying as involved as possible so that he would be ready to hit the ground running whenever he was ready to run.

And make no mistake, the kid can really run.

“He’s just got so much speed, man,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “He’s got so much ability. Any way that we can use him, whenever that time is he comes back, it’ll give us a boost, somehow, somehow, however many snaps that ends up being, however many balls he ends up catching. Just having him on the field and having his ability to threaten people vertically and to turn a 5-yard throw into a 60-yard gain, that type of stuff, it’s dangerous.”

When we’ll see that speed on the field still remains a mystery. Williams won’t play on Thursday against Buffalo, but could make his debut against Jacksonville after that, or perhaps Minnesota. Detroit has 20 more days to activate him.

Whenever that happens, Williams will bring more speed to that offense than perhaps anyone in the history of the franchise. Yes, he’s that fast. He was clocked at 23 mph last year at Alabama, which is faster than Tyreek, faster than Jaylen, faster than everyone in the league this season.

“My skill-set is different,” Williams said. “I feel like coaches have a great plan for me and how they will use me. So when the time comes, we’ll see for sure.”

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