In the big picture, it's great news that Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams had his six-game gambling suspension shortened by two games and he's eligible to play in Week 5. Whether he plays or not is to be determined, and head coach Dan Campbell has confirmed Williams will be on some kind of snap count if he does play.
Williams practiced with the team on Tuesday for the first time since training camp. He brought to light the work he did while had to be away from the team, but replicating actual practice is difficult.
Campbell made his normal weekly appearance on 97.1 The Ticket Wednesday morning. He reiterated the expectations for Williams, however low and/or realistic they are or should be while again citing things like alignment, proper route depth, etc.
"We cannot overload him," "Yes, we’d love to get him up to speed, but we don’t want to overload him, either. That wouldn’t be fair to him. And then, let’s go. Let’s see where he can take us a little bit."
"He just literally got back. He got back last week, but we're getting ready for Green Bay, we're not practicing or anything like that. But he was in the building and continued to train," So really, (Tuesday) was the first day to get him out on the grass, a significant practice, watch him move and all those things....Now it's just building trust, building rapport with Goff and getting him some things we feel like he can really sink his teeth into."
Dan Campbell doing all he can to keep expectations for Jameson Williams in check
News of Williams' reinstatement led to him widely being considered a top add off fantasy football waiver wires this week. A broader narrative is that he'll be some kind of instant difference maker for the Lions' offense as a deep threat, with or without being targeted heavily. But that latter point just can't be known, as Campbell's words this week rekindle what he said back in August after the preseason opener about Williams being "at square one." A subsequent hamstring injury didn't help.
"It’s all about getting better and growth and this was step one. Man, he needed this. He didn’t have a preseason last year. He really didn’t," "I kind of feel like he’s starting from square one. So, this is a step in the right direction. We’ll get him in against Jacksonville and then we’re going to play him again and get him better, but this is a step in the right direction.”
Anyone that tries to push immediate expectations for Williams high as if anything is known is not being realistic. Campbell could be engaging in a little gamesmanship, and he might also be trying to protect Williams from the unrealistic expectations of fans or fans posing as analysts. But there's a grain of "we just don't know" to what Campbell is saying.
Until further notice, Williams is simply an unknown quantity and the Lions don't know exactly what they'll get from him. And as they try to keep winning games, the tolerance for any mistakes on little things might be very low.