In the offseason, the Packers signed Jones to a large contract and let Williams leave as a free agent with 2020 second-round pick AJ Dillon waiting to step in as the Green Bay’s new No. 2.
Now paired with De’Andre Swift to form the Lions’ running back tandem, Williams resumed his reliably productive ways in his first game with Detroit last week. He got his hands on the ball 17 times, scored a TD, and compiled 110 yards from scrimmage (9-54 rushing, 8-56 receiving) in the Lions’ 41-33 loss to the 49ers.
“It’s the same old Jamaal that you saw when he was playing for us,” Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. “I’m sure he’ll be fired up to come in here and play.”
Added outside linebacker Preston Smith: “We know what to expect when we see Jamaal. He’s going to play hard each and every play. He’s going to give his all each and every chance he can get.”
The Packers certainly respect the way he plays, but even more so they love him as a friend and former teammate – a guy who always had a smile on his face and could brighten any room or lighten any mood, whatever was required.
“He’s such a special, special guy,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has stayed in touch with Williams. “One of those guys, there’s a gaping hole in certain areas when you lose a guy like that. You can’t just fill it up with one person – his magnanimous personality.”
Detroit fans were quickly introduced to it this spring when, in one of Williams’ first media sessions with his new team, two reporters tried asking a question at the same time and Williams made them play rock-paper-scissors to see who would go first.
It happened again this past week while talking about his return to Green Bay, and he required a best-of-three, laughing and smiling the whole time.
That’s Williams, who downplayed any extra juice or revenge factor in facing the team that let him go, but who will take his job no less seriously come Monday night.
“I’m excited to play,” he said. “It’ll be great to see my boys, teammates that I’ve just grown to love over the years. But this is different. I’m on the other side, so I gotta go out there and play for my Lions first.
“Then after the game we can chit-chat.”