Heading into his NFL debut last season, Lions head coach Dan Campbell suggested Jameson Williams could be used as a gunner on the punt coverage team. That didn't happen, as there were no punts against the Jacksonville Jaguars-but it would have if the Lions had punted.
The idea of using Williams as a kickoff returner surfaced during the offseason. With the success he had doing it for Alabama in 2021, averaging 35.2 yards per return with two touchdowns, it was an interesting idea. But on the other hand, the NFL's concerted effort to elminate kickoff returns automatically reduces the impact a kickoff returner can have.
Williams played close to half of the Lions' offensive snaps in his season debut against the Carolina Panthers. That snap share should climb, however possibly incrementally, moving forward.
In a broad sense, special teams is a way to get Williams on the field more and help him knock any rust off. But special teams coach Dave Fipp, speaking to the media on Thursday, doesn't expect that to be the plan.
Lions have no plans to use Jameson Williams in any special teams facet
Via Kory Woods of MLive, Fipp talked about the easy priority with Williams.
"I think the priority for him right now is to get him up and going on offense," Fipp said. "But I think at some point you’re always looking to put your best players on the field or in a position to impact the game the most you can, so I think that’s always an option or something to always keep in mind or think about him (and running back Jahmyr) Gibbs. I know Gibbs has been down or was down last week, but those guys you’re always looking to see if there’s an opportunity or a position you can put them in."
Fipp also noted how the Lions have only had two kickoff returns so far this season, so in that sense the risk of Williams (or Gibbs?) being injured doing it is low.
"I still think it’s awkward to me because it’s one play a game, maybe,” Fipp said. “We’ve had two returns on the season, and it’s like you play that guy 60 plays, you want to try to get him out in space, and here’s a chance to get a guy out in space in one play or two plays in five games, and I don’t know, the whole injury thing, that’s a totally different conversation. But yeah, I mean, I don’t know. I haven’t seen him return or get hurt yet.”
Fipp joked about using Williams as a gunner again, but he also acknowledged it's probably not happening.
"Are his gunner days over? I say never say never," Fipp said.
Williams' focus should be on honing his craft as a wide receiver and getting acclimated in the Lions' offense. Anything else is irrelevant right now, and the team's plan for him reflects that.