3 most important players on the Detroit Lions who are not starters
1. RB Jamaal Williams
Yes Williams started 11 games last year, to D’Andre Swift’s four and the two split work a lot early in the season. But make no mistake, Swift is the Lions’ No. 1 running back and he won’t be unseated by anything short of an injury (which is of course the thing, after he missed four-plus games with a shoulder injury last year).
Williams is a solid all-around back, there’s no arguing that, and he can keep Detroit’s ground game afloat as the lead guy in Swift’s absence. But beyond his on-field value, the former Packer is clearly comfortable in front of a microphone and that can make things easier for his teammates who may not be as comfortable in that setting.
Williams might resist being called a leader in that strict a sense. If it were suggested to him that he is a leader for this young Lions’ team, he’d probably just say something like “I just do what I do, and if they follow that (hopefully) means I’m doing it the right way.”
Williams can and should be a tone-setter for the Lions on and off the field this year–have fun, but also get locked in and take care of business on Sundays. Young players will look to him as an example, and Dan Campbell and his coaching staff is presumably just fine with that.