Detroit Lions: Having Jamaal Williams back is vital heading into Cleveland

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Jamaal Williams returning to practice for the Detroit Lions is more important than who is expected to start at quarterback against Cleveland this Sunday.

Williams spoke with the press Thursday, and the usually amusing running back didn’t disappoint.  The first-year Detroit Lion stood at the podium with his helmet on and mentioned he would wear it everywhere.

This wasn’t like head coach Dan Campbell sporting a racing helmet a minute for a photo opportunity after being named Grand Marshal for the Detroit Grand Prix; Williams kept it on the entire time.

Williams is a national treasure these days around Detroit, plus his smile is infectious, and his continuous humor is a breath of fresh air.

Having Jamaal Williams back to compliment D’Andre Swift is vital for the Detroit Lions’ offense.

When you look at how Campbell called the offense last weekend in Pittsburgh, having Williams back in the lineup to compliment D’Andre Swift, who carried the football a career-high 33 times, gives Detroit a valuable one-two punch in the backfield.

It goes without saying, Detroit can’t afford to use Swift as much as they did against the Steelers on a consistent basis, and although the Lions got significant production in the run game from Jermar Jefferson and Godwin Igwebuike, neither are nearly as talented as Williams at this point in their career.

Williams has averaged 4.4 yards per carry, and a lot of his work comes between the tackles where things are not so glamorous.

Those inside runs may not always look flashy, and at times seem ineffective, but those types of carries are similar to body punches in a boxing match.  When a boxer focuses on wearing down their opponent round after round with body blows, they become susceptible elsewhere.

It’s the same way in football but to a defense.  If you keep pounding the rock with some type of success, it opens up the play-action game and downfield passing attack; that is, if you have a quarterback that can throw the football.  It seems like a job requirement, but that concept is debatable if you tuned in last week.

Williams has totaled 312 rushing yards and two touchdowns while adding 99 receiving yards on 16 catches so far in 2021.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Williams has played his way to a very respectable 75.3 overall grade, plus a rushing rate of 78.1.

The Detroit Lions may be without Jared Goff, who has yet to practice this week, giving way to 27-year old Tim Boyle, who has taken all the first-team reps this week despite never making an NFL start.

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Having Williams back, along with the Lions’ debut of receiver Josh Reynolds, maybe the difference between winning and losing against the 5-5 Browns.