On the idea of getting the ball into his hands more, is there really a chance Jameson Williams returns kicks for the Lions next season?
In his limited action working his way back from a torn ACL, both of Jameson Williams’ touches as a rookie went for at least 40 yards. There were a couple near-miss opportunities, but the overarching theme for Williams heading toward his second season is that a breakout is lined up.
While the idea of Williams having a second-year breakout is driven by the likelihood of a larger role in a Lions’ offense that was top-tier in the league last season, the broad idea of getting the ball in his hands in any way possible could or even should be in play.
Leading up to his debut, the Lions drew criticism for the idea they were ready to use him as a gunner on the punt team. But that never came to fruition.
Could Jameson Williams return kicks for the Lions next season?
Lions special teams coach Dave Fipp, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required), talked about the possibility of Williams being used on special teams next season (h/t to SI.com).
"I don’t totally know the answer to it, only because he is just kind of coming back,” “He’s done it. I mean, when you talk to him — there’s one thing I love about him. Like, he wants to do everything. The guy loves playing. ‘Be a gunner? I’ll be a gunner. I want to be the punt returner, too. I got kick return, too, I would have housed that one.’ And I think the great players are like that, and they want to do all that stuff. So we’ll just see how it goes.”Obviously, it would be great to see him back there (as a returner) if that’s what his role provides. But I’ve said this all along a million times is it just depends on their role on offense and defense to what their role is going to be on special teams, Their role on special teams is more influenced by offense and defense than it is on what he can do on teams.”"
The NFL, barring a change to the current XFL rule, has virtually removed kickoff returns from the game in the name of player safety. So any impact Williams could make there likely wouldn’t be much. And Kalif Raymond has been one of the best punt returners in the NFL in each of the last two seasons, and he shouldn’t be displaced.
Ultimately, Williams’ path to a major impact in his second season is still firmly rooted in having a bigger role in the Lions’ offense. That should be the focus, and it surely will be rather than any lean into the novelty of having him return kicks.