Pushed into the lead back role, Lions running back Jamaal Williams is having a well-timed career year.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way in the Detroit Lions backfield. But D’Andre Swift missed three games earlier in the season, has seen a limited workload since returning and he may not be fully healthy until the offseason.
But Jamaal Williams has stepped up, and that might not be saying enough. His nine rushing touchdowns are third in the league, he has already set his career-high for rushing yards (604) and with 12 carries on Sunday against the New York Giants he’ll set a career-high in that category 10 games into the season.
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has a couple nicknames for Williams, echoing previous remarks from head coach Dan Campbell.
"Like we say every week with him, he is Mr. Dependable, Mr. Steady,” said Johnson. “We know exactly what we’re getting with him.”"
On Friday, running backs coach Duce Staley called Williams “our team leader”.
Jamaal Williams having a well-timed career year for the Lions
Williams is on-pace (which can be dangerous territory) for 268 carries for 1,141 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. That carry total would be more than all but three NFL running backs had last season.
Even if he falls off those paces, Williams is set to hit free agency in March on a high note. He’ll turn 28 in early April, but his career workload has him not as physically used up as some other backs his age would be. The Lions surely wouldn’t be opposed to bringing him back, and for whatever it’s worth Williams sounds like he wants to be back.
"I want to be here,” he said. “It’s a great team. I see the possibilities and the positive energy in here. So if I can be here, I’ll be here. If I can’t, it’s just the way of the universe. I’m happy wherever I go and I’m just gonna be me, but I know what I bring to the team and hopefully I’m here for it.”"
Williams is not going to say anything other than, essentially “I want to be back” right now. But with him, as with everything he says and does, it seems genuine he wants to be a Lion in 2023 and however far beyond those with the power to determine it want him.