Jamaal Williams, Lions' backup RBs ready for larger role in D'Andre Swift's absence

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams continues to get in the hot tub every day.

The 6-foot, 224-pounder likes to sweat before each practice session.

That routine won't change now, even with an opportunity for a larger role in the Lions' offense coming.

Entering Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks (1 p.m. ET, Fox), Williams' backfield mate, D'Andre Swift, was ruled out with a shoulder sprain and a lingering ankle injury, opening the door for Williams and fellow backups Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson to have a greater share of the carries until Swift is healthy -- a circumstance head coach Dan Campbell and the team are comfortable with going forward.

"Yeah, real confident. I mean, for the most part Swift was -- he didn't get a lot of work last week, he got a little bit, but obviously he was a little banged up," Campbell said. "So we leaned on Jamaal, and he did a hell of a job and Craig will take a little bit more and so will Jackson.

"So it's a -- it’ll be by committee and we're confident, very confident. Trust those guys."

Accepting a feature role isn't something Williams is shying away from. During last week's 28-24 loss at the Minnesota Vikings, he carried the ball 20 times for 87 yards with a pair of rushing touchdowns.

"I love it. Every time. Give me the opportunity," Williams said. "It just shows that put me in the position and I'm gonna make sure I handle my job. You ain't never gotta worry about me doing my job or whatever my role is, so I'm just gonna get it done and try to help the team."

According to a team source, the Lions want to be smart about Swift's health. Campbell has discussed the possibility of sitting him against the Seahawaks and the New England Patriots next week, then having him return after the bye week when the Lions face the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 23.

However long Swift is out, his backups will be ready.

"I don't know what's gonna happen," Reynolds said. "Game situations come where we need this or we need that, but whatever they need or whenever they call my number, I'll be ready. Whatever it is."

Through Week 3, Detroit has produced the third-most rushing yards per game (170.3) and the most plays of 20-or-more yard gains (15). They also have the league's second-most rushing yards before contact, gaining 241 of their 511 total yards before contact -- only trailing the Atlanta Falcons (245).

Swift has proven to be the team's most dynamic offensive threat with his shifty playmaking as a runner and receiver. He leads the team with 231 rushing yards on a career-best 8.6 yards per carry. But Williams is proving to be the sturdier back and has scored a team-high four rushing touchdowns as he's become the team's No. 1 option in short-yardage situations.

"He's been obviously tremendous for us, but we've got guys that we trust," quarterback Jared Goff said. "Jamaal's obviously first up and then, Craig and everyone else. But Swift is going to be fine and whenever he's back we'll be ready for him."

Over the past two seasons, Detroit's percentage of rushes for 10 or more yards has dipped from 15.7% on the field to 11.6 in games without Swift. In the four games Swift missed with a shoulder injury last season, the Lions averaged 4.12 yards per rush. With Swift, they've averaged 4.82 yards per rush since 2021.

The Lions' top priority is keeping Swift healthy for the long haul, but in the short term they feel confident with the pieces they have.

"We all know he's a weapon for us, but I mean we're prepared for this," Campbell said of Swift. "We knew it would be hard to get through a full season with him being healthy, that's just the nature of the position and Swift's -- man, he's different. And I mean that in a good way. He's just -- that's the way it goes, and so we're prepared for this, and those backs will do a good job. And we'll find touches for other guys."