The Detroit Lions had an eventful 16-hour stretch this week, beating the rival Green Bay Packers on the road Thursday night and then learning early Friday afternoon that wide receiver Jameson Williams would be returning early from his suspension.
As ESPN reported, the league decided to modify its punishments for gambling to increase the length of suspensions for players who bet either on their own teams or NFL games in general and lessen the suspension for other forms of gambling. That means that Williams’ original six-game ban has been knocked down to four games, and he will be able to rejoin teammates starting on Monday.
Lions Get Key Player Back
As The Athletic’s Colton Pouncy reported, the Lions won’t immediately know whether Williams will be able to play starting in Week 5. He suffered a hamstring injury that cut short his training camp on August 11, and the team has been barred from keeping in contact with him at the start of the season.
While head coach Dan Campbell said this week that Williams was “good,” Pouncey noted that it’s unclear if that means he will be able to play.
“Exactly how good will be the question,” Pouncy wrote. “Monday, when he’s fully reinstated, the Lions will have to see where his body’s at and determine how much time he’ll need to ramp up and how soon they believe he can realistically return to action.”
The Lions were not able to see much from Williams in his rookie season in 2022, as he spent most of the season rehabbing a torn ACL and then played only a small role in the offense to end the season. Williams ended the year with just one catch, though it did go 41 yards for a touchdown.
Pouncy added that Williams will likely give a big boost to the Lions offense, whenever it is he’s able to return to the field.
“This is huge news for a Lions team that is, admittedly, in a good place without Williams,” he wrote. “Detroit ranks sixth in total offense (386.3 yards per game) and eighth in scoring (26.5 points per game). But Williams’ speed adds a different element to the offense. His teammates have been eagerly awaiting his return to action.”
Lions Finding Other New Contributors
While they have been waiting for the second-year Williams to return this season, the Lions have found another young contributor in rookie tight end Sam LaPorta. Though the first three games of the season, LaPorta has 22 catches for 242 yards and one touchdown.
LaPorta’s fast start in the NFL caught the attention of Rob Gronkowski, who said he sees big things for the rookie.
“Just his instinct for the game, the instinct to be able to catch the ball. He can catch the ball on the run very, very well,” Gronkowski said in an appearance on the “Up and Adams Show,” via SI.com. “Like I said a little bit earlier that he is definitely the steal of the draft. He’s got speed and he’s just savvy out there. He’s a savvy guy. And what’s impressive is, he’s only a rookie. I think he has beaten, if I’m correct, he has beaten the tight end record for most amount of catches in the first three games of a season for a rookie. I think he has 18 catches already. I mean, the guy is legit.”