Lions' Jameson Williams 'excited' to be back from gambling ban

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Tuesday was one of the best days Jameson Williams has experienced in over a month. After returning to the Detroit Lions facility to participate in his second full practice session following a four-game suspension, the second-year receiver was elated to be back.

"Yeah, for sure. I'm not mad," Williams said of the NFL's recent revision of the gambling policy. "I'm excited I get to play football and get back to it. I expected it to be longer, but thank God we're here 'til this day and s---, we're good."

During the suspension, originally set for six games, Williams trained twice a day while being away from the team. His work included 100 catches per day on the JUGs machine while at home. Williams was punished for mobile betting on non-NFL games from a club facility in 2022, a policy he says he wasn't aware of beforehand.

He acknowledged being "happy" the NFL changed the rules but wouldn't elaborate further on his emotions regarding the punishment or the topic of athletes gambling.

"It's rules you've got to follow and that's really just the main thing. It's rules you've got to follow," he told ESPN. "If it's rule set, you've got to follow them. That's it."

Under the new policy, betting on non-NFL sports while at a team facility or on team-related travel will result in a two-game suspension for a first violation, six games for a second and at least one year for a third. Williams had to learn a valuable lesson in the process, but says he's hungry to contribute to the success of the 3-1 Lions, who are coming off a 34-20 prime-time victory over the Green Bay Packers on "Thursday Night Football."

Detroit is red-hot with six consecutive division wins, the franchise's longest streak since 1995. The Lions are set to host the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on Sunday and Williams said he's "ready to go."

"I'm real hungry. I just want to keep this going," Williams said. "It's something that Detroit haven't seen in a while. So, we're just trying to keep this going as a team, play good team ball, play good ball and just get wins."

Although Williams is expected to be a legitimate deep-ball threat with his blazing speed in the open field, head coach Dan Campbell and the Lions staff are trying to establish realistic expectations. The plan is to work him back into the mix slowly and Campbell said, "He can't play 60 plays" right now because it's "not smart."

"He's got to get his legs under him, and all that stuff and we'll see what it leads to," Lions receivers coach Antwaan Randle El said.

Still, Lions quarterback Jared Goff believes Williams will be involved in Sunday's game "to some extent" against the Panthers. After the offseason work they put in together, Goff said he feels "good with him on really everything we're running," not only as a vertical threat.

"He adds a hell of a lot more than that. He can do a lot of different things but yeah, it's just getting another playmaker for us," Goff said. "Another guy that can make plays in space and we're 3-1 and have been pretty good on offense without him, but hopefully he can take us to that next level, but we've got room to improve outside of him as well which is exciting."

Williams, the No. 12 pick of the 2022 NFL draft, returned to practice sporting NFL legend Deion Sanders' vintage Nike Air DT Max 96 cleats in a flashy green, yellow and white colorway. He has plans to get them changed to Lions Honolulu blue and white for the game against the Panthers.

When questioned about his shoe choice, the response was simple.

"For Prime Time, that's me, I'm prime time. When I get out on that field, they're going to see, man," he told ESPN with a huge smile.

The early enthusiasm surrounding his return doesn't seem to be too much to handle for the 22-year-old.

"It was never pressure for me because this is what I wanted to be growing up. I had dreams," Williams said. "My favorite person when I was growing up was Odell [Beckham Jr.]. He had the whole world in his hands, everything, kids was loving him and in high school everybody was a fan of him, so I looked at that and he took hold of me, so that's what I pictured myself as just being: a real leader to the kids and using this platform to bring everybody up."