“Jameson’s goal is to play first preseason game, obviously,” said Dr. Lyle Cain, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama. “I told him, I said, ‘Look, depending on which team you go to, most teams are probably — they’re going to be very conservative. You’ve got to understand that.’ And he’ll get talked into it, but I know he’s, in his mind said he’s going to be ready Game 1.”
Typically, Cain said it takes three to four months for the ligament to heal and five to nine months for the muscle “to get back in shape.” Williams suffered a clean tear of the ACL and did not rupture other ligaments in his knee, Cain said.
“There’s a wide variety of ACL injuries from pretty straight forward to very complex,” Cain said. “And his was a very straight forward one, which makes it easier for him, for sure.”
Cain said the next milestone in Williams’ rehab is to begin running routes and doing other football-related activities.
“I’m sure you saw him on draft day, he looks like nothing ever happened and he’s kind of one of those guys where he looked so good, so fast that I think the question for the medical staff of the Lions is going to be how fast to let him progress and get moving because I think the course of history in the NFL has been to be relatively conservative and slow with return for the athlete,” Cain said.
But I think for all the stuff that I’ve seen and from how he’s progressed, I think Jameson will be — he’ll be ready to go as quickly as everybody lets him go.”
Cain said mental hurdles are often an athlete’s biggest challenge to regaining their pre-surgery form, but that Williams has had a unique approach to recovery and rehab.
“A guy that was seen as having a really quick recovery was a guy that had surgery that we did here in Birmingham, Adrian Peterson,” Cain said. “A.P. came back and had a great year his year after surgery (running for 2,097 yards) and he came back I think around eight months. And that was considered a really quick return.
"The reality is, most guys are ready before that but they may not have their confidence or they may not have had enough reps to really be comfortable in the system that they’re in. I think for Jameson, I think when he shows up to camp soon, he’s going to look like a million bucks and I think it’s just how quick it takes him to get through the progression of getting back to feeling normal.”