Lions receiver Williams hopeful for return in season finale

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Roy Williams might be the only NFL player excited about the idea of playing at Lambeau Field in late December.

The Detroit Lions receiver is expected to miss the rest of the season after spraining his right knee in Sunday's loss in Minnesota, but he remains hopeful that he could return for at least one more game.

"My goal is Green Bay," he said, referring to Detroit's Dec. 30 regular season finale. "They told me that I'll miss three to five weeks, so if I can make it three, I can play against the Packers."

Coach Rod Marinelli has the same hope, and said the Lions will wait until the last week of the season before placing Williams on injured reserve.

"I think he's got a chance to get back, so we'll wait," he said. "If we can get Roy Williams back on the field, even for one game, that's huge for our team."

Williams, though, acknowledges that he's not sure if that's realistic.

"I don't know, because I've never had a knee before, and I've never gotten hurt late in the season before," he said Wednesday. "The last three years, I've gotten hurt in the fifth game of the season every time, so when I got through the fifth game this year, I thought I was good.

"Now I get hurt in the fifth-to-last game."

Williams realized in the first two days after the injury just how much work he has ahead of him.

"I was just happy today that I could finally get my pants on -- that's how swollen it was the last couple days," he said. "I couldn't even get in and out of my car without help."

The worst part for Williams was that the injury occurred as he appeared on his way to his best game of the season. Despite only lasting a few minutes into the second quarter, he had caught five passes for 85 yards.

He was injured on his last play -- a 43-yarder that set up Detroit's only touchdown.

"We had something good going on, and we needed it," he said. "This was a 6-2 team, and now we're a 6-6 team on the outside of the playoffs looking in."

The Lions host 11-1 Dallas on Sunday, which will be even tougher without Williams.

"That's our best player, at least the way he was playing on Sunday before he got hurt," Lions quarterback Jon Kitna said. "Now we need guys to step up and fill that void. I'm sure that Mike Martz is going to find a great way to do that."

With Williams out, the receiving load will be on Shaun McDonald, Calvin Johnson and Mike Furrey.

Notes: The Lions placed LaMarcus Hicks (ankle) on injured reserve, and signed WR Brandon Middleton from their practice squad. They also added WR Reggie Ball to the practice squad. ... The team did not practice in pads on Wednesday. "I'm Santa today," Marinelli joked. "I thought we were a little banged-up and had a lot of guys sitting out, so I thought we could freshen some guys up a bit."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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