Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams isn’t afraid of the competition

Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams won’t back down from any kind of competition.

The sixth-year professional joined the Lions through free agency last offseason, on a two-year, $6 million deal. He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Green Bay Packers, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

In his first season at Motor City, Williams rushed for a career-high 601 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games, to go along with 26 catches for 157 extra yards.

The California native also showcased his dynamic personality and relentless attitude in his first season in Detroit, which was again on display during his media session at the Lions’ Allen Park training facility on Tuesday.

“People think they understand what kind of footballer I am, and they have no idea what I can do. I can literally take anyone’s ankle,” Williams told reporters. “I’m not afraid of anyone. Course running, ball running, blocking… I have no problem having confidence in myself. Because I know what kind of player I am and what kind of work I do . I’m not scared of anything. Look at my hair, man. Baby dreads, ugly face. I don’t care.”

The ultra-confident and fun-loving Williams has used this period of training camp so far to validate his status as the leader of the team, with both his natural energy and his motivational talk.

He enters the 2022 campaign as Detroit’s oldest backfield statesman, with more years of NFL playing experience than not just third-year pro D’Andre Swift, but also the rest of the backs of the team. This presented Williams with the opportunity to “strengthen” as a leader this coming season.

“I’m just trying to establish myself more as the leader that I am,” Williams said. “When I see something or what I feel, I just want to make my teammates understand how I feel and what we can do better and what kind of team we can be.

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“It’s really just a mindset, and I feel like the more we talk about it and the more we keep that level of expectation to ourselves, everyone else in the squad is going to become contagious. And then they’ll see that we can really do something special here. It’s all mental.

The 27-year-old has established himself as one of the most interesting characters this Lions roster has to offer.

On Tuesday, Williams got a chance to show off another component of her quirky personality: her self-proclaimed “nerd” side.

With a bag of Naruto merchandise in hand, he detailed his love for anime and how he was bullied growing up because of it.

“Well, if I wasn’t good at sports (growing up) I wouldn’t have (had) any friends,” Williams said. “But, I was good at sports. … So they had to accept me for who I am.”

He received anime memorabilia from fans at the end of Tuesday’s practice. In exchange, spectators received an autograph from the back of the NFL.

“If people bring in anime stuff, I know they understand me as a person and don’t just see me as a football player,” Williams said. “(If) you understand me as a person, you get more attention from me.”

Charles P. Patton