Jameson Williams didn’t play much in his NFL debut, as pretty much expected, but head coach Dan Campbell confirmed a pregame report about how the rookie wide receiver was going to be used.
Seemingly in contradiction to the easy notion he’d play limited snaps, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports had an interesting report before Sunday’s game. The Detroit Lions were planning to use rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams as a gunner on the punt team, toeing the line between getting him some game reps and taking a stupid risk.
The Lions never punted on Sunday, scoring on all eight of their possessions before kneel-downs in a 40-14 drubbing of the Jacksonville Jaguars. So Williams only saw action on offense, playing eight snaps and seeing one target.
Williams will surely see more playing time moving forward. Sunday was about getting him into a game, all the way down to rudimentary things to simply get acclimated. However that looked in terms of how he was used.
Dan Campbell confirmed planned role for Jameson Williams in debut
After the game, via Kyle Meinke of MLive, Lions head coach Dan Campbell confirmed the plan was to use Williams as a gunner on the punt team.
"We felt like that was the biggest impact he could have today,” head coach Dan Campbell said. “We knew just outright he can run, and he can (play gunner). He’s tough, he’s physical, and he was all for it. But we didn’t punt.”"
Williams was used as a gunner last season at Alabama, with a notable hit in the Iron Bowl against Auburn when he was deployed in the role. He certainly seems willing to do it, which in a broad sense is a credit to him.
Even though it didn’t happen, as a chunk of Lions fans will be sure to remind you, it’s fair to question a decision to use up part of a limited snap count with some punt coverage snaps and expose Williams to a unique extra risk of injury. That the Lions did not punt on Sunday is not important to the idea of calling into question the idea of using Williams as a gunner, hindsight being 20/20 to take issue with calling it into question. If he had been injured covering a punt on Sunday, that portion of fan sentiment would have been 180 degrees the other way.
Any plan to use Williams as a punt team gunner moving forward is unclear. But it’s safe to assume it will happen, then we’ll see what happens and if concerns about risk prove valid.