Vikings Sign LB Antwione Williams After 49ers Claim LB Elijah Lee

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A linebacker for a linebacker: Antwione Williams

The Minnesota Vikings have signed former Detroit Lions linebacker Antwione Williams. He will join the Vikings practice squad. Detroit cut Williams as they trimmed their active roster to 53. He did not join the Lions’ practice squad after clearing waivers.

Williams is 6-foot-3, 240 pounds. He played college football at Georgia Southern. The 24 year-old was drafted in the fifth round by Detroit in 2016. He appeared in 14 games as a rookie last season, starting three. Between special teams and defense, the second-year linebacker amassed 27 tackles and a fumble recovery.

Minnesota acquired Williams after the San Francisco 49ers plucked linebacker Elijah Lee off the Vikings’ practice squad. The 49ers signed the Vikings’ 2017 7th-round pick to their 53-man roster after rookie Reuben Foster suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1.

Detroit’s Most Surprising Cut?

Williams was Detroit’s number three linebacker for most of the 2016 season, spending time at all three linebacker spots. Earlier this spring, he was even in contention for a starting OLB position. Unfortunately for Williams, the Lions overhauled their linebacker depth this offseason.

The Lions drafted Jarrad Davis in the first round to be their starting middle linebacker. Tahir Whitehead, last year’s starting middle linebacker, moved to the weak side. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, the Lions’ fourth-round pick, is a weak-side linebacker, and Paul Worrilow, who the Lions signed in free agency, can play all three positions.

Worrilow went on to beat out Williams for the starting SAM linebacker position. Due to veteran back-ups Steve Longa and Nick Bellore‘s special teams versatility, the team chose to keep them over Williams.

ESPN’s Michael Rothstein wrote cutting Williams was Detroit’s most significant move during roster cuts. Rothstein explained Williams’ starting experience and value on special teams were main reasons he was considered the most surprising cut for the Lions.

The New York Giants held a workout with Williams on September 5th. He was not with a team Week 1.

Check out his Georgia Southern highlights here.