Jamaal Williams doesn’t take himself too seriously. It’s partly why he’s become a fan favorite in Motown. He’s funny. He’s personable. And he’s a jokester. However, he takes his role as a Detroit Lions running back seriously.
Proof of that is his brand new physique.
Williams devoted his offseason to being in his career-best shape by training camp’s start. To do so, he had to head to Scottsdale, AZ. That’s where his trainer (and Uncle) Luke Neal was ready and waiting at the new field they had built, the L and J Field, also known as the Luke and Jamaal Field.
Being his trainer, Neal knows Williams’ body very well. And according to him, they’ve been on this journey of keeping the lovable running back in premier shape. For the upcoming season, they still have that same mission. However, how to accomplish that goal changed.
After witnessing how his first year with the Lions went, Williams and Neal devised a game plan. They both reviewed what the Lions coaches demanded from him. Based on that, they decided it was time to “re-invent Jamaal”. And Williams’ teammate, D’Andre Swift, was the muse for his new look.
“I noticed that there were a lot of quick twitch movements that they [Lions] had D’Andre (Swift) do,” Neal told Woodward Sports. “So i figured, ok. We’ll slim you down. And we’ll put you in a position to where at 6’1, 217 pounds, you’ll be able to do things and get into areas that 5’10/5’10 195 pound guys can get into just as quick and efficiently, in and out.”
Neal accomplished this by putting his nephew on a regimen that would shed off some weight, while working on his elusiveness.
“He’s the most elusive he’s ever been at any time,” said Neal.
Before the change in his workout regimen, the plan was for Williams to report to training camp between 225-228 pounds. Williams had other plans. He aimed to get back to his rookie playing weight, hoping that he’ll be able to duplicate that success (and then some) with the Lions.
“When I had him at 217 before, he was in [Green Bay] Packers rookie Hall of Fame, said Neal.” “So he figured in year six [of his career], we’ll go back to 217 [pounds], and find some success that we found before. At one point, he was 215 out here[Scottsdale].”
During Williams’ rookie season with the Packers, he rushed for 556 yards, and four touchdowns. He also caught 25 passes for 262 yards, and a pair of receiving touchdowns as well. Statistically, it’s his career-best year across the board, despite career-highs in rushing yards and yards per game last season.
With Jamaal Williams making the choice to shed off some weight, one could wonder if it’d affect his power. Coach Neal states that isn’t the case here.
“Actually, it’s going to make him more powerful, said Neal.” “We did a lot of light, small muscle group work. Normally in the big school [and] big institutions, they work on the big core, the big muscle groups. Bench press. Squats. Big Muscles groups. So what we did was we took a lot of that stuff out.”
“That’s why he looks bigger not, but more in shape. Because a lot of the big muscles were shredded off.”
Jamaal Williams’ new physique is already impressing his coaches. In fact, Detroit Lions running back coach Duce Staley had one word to describe it.
“Great. One word. Great,” Staley told Woodward Sports. “He looks in shape. I know he’s in shape. He’s out there finishing 60, 70 yards down the field. He’s being a leader, [and] he’s being vocal. Man he’s in great shape. I love it.”
Because of Williams’ work ethic this past offseason, his trainer isn’t expecting anything less than 1,000 all-purpose yards this season––800 yards rushing, 200 yards receiving, and ten touchdowns. Additionally, he feels the “new and improved Jamaal” will complement D’Andre Swift well this season.
However, Neal does have one wish for the running back duo. And that’s to see both Williams and Swift in the backfield at the same time. Why? Because he thinks it’s simply deadly.
“You can tell When Jamaal is coming in the game, you can tell he’s getting the ball. When D’Andre’s in the game, you can tell he’s getting the ball. I think if they kept both of those guys in the backfield, you’d have one of the NFL’s most deadliest duos,” said Neal. “Because you don’t know who’s getting the ball. And you have the ability to utilize both of the skillsets in the game at the same time.”
“I think that’s scary for a defensive player. As a linebacker, which one do you want to cover?”
There’s no telling if the Detroit Lions coaching staff will listen to Uncle Luke Neal. Heck, he’s still wondering why the Lions didn’t pass to his nephew last season like Aaron Rodgers did in Green Bay––whom Williams spoke with in the offseason about routes.
One thing is for sure, though. If Jamaal Williams’ “new body” translates into more W’s for the Lions, we may see some of Uncle Luke’s requests become a reality.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.