Tackle Caraun Reid swapping praying for preying on Lions opposition

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Caraun Reid watched an NFL game in person for the first time last Monday night at Ford Field.

Sure, the Lions rookie defensive tackle played in four exhibitions, but the Week 1 victory over the Giants was the first real NFL game he’s witnessed.

The fifth-round pick had other commitments on Sundays.

“My dad’s a bishop,” Reid said. “So Sunday morning I’m in church. Sunday afternoon I’m still in church; evening, I’m still in church.”

When the Lions visit the Panthers on Sunday, it will mark the first time Reid has played football on a Sunday. At Princeton, all but one of his games were on Saturdays.

But for the rest of this season, Reid will be busy on Sundays, and as he continues developing, he hopes to be busier in the games after playing three snaps, all in goal-line situations, in the victory over the Giants.

“I’m continuing to improve every day,” he said. “I think this week was my best week of practice, but whenever they call on me, I’ve got to be ready to go.”

In many ways, Reid described his first NFL game like an excited child who showed up to support his favorite players.

“It was just a crazy amount of emotions running out there and seeing that smoke,” he said. “It was unforgettable.”

Because he plays defense, Reid got to witness Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s 164-yard, two-touchdown game.

“Seeing Calvin, that was crazy,” he said. “He’s a lot more amazing seeing him in person than it is on TV. … I was screaming. I was laughing. I was like, that is crazy. How does a human do that?”

On college game days, Reid said he and his teammates were pretty tense compared to what he saw from the Lions.

“Not only am I watching (the game) with these guys competing, but I’m a part of this team, that was the best feeling,” he said.

Plus, playing in front of an announced crowd of 64,401 at Ford Field was a different experience than most of the crowds he saw in college, which maxed out at about 21,000.

As exciting as Reid’s debut was, the Lions likely will rely on him to play more this season.

Although he was drafted as a bit of a project, he’s already shown significant improvement since the draft, particularly with his explosion. Reid said defensive line coaches Kris Kocurek and Jim Washburn have helped him learn to use different parts of his body to be quicker off the line, particularly his hips.

“Playing inside, he’s learning that it’s a little different than playing in the Ivy League,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said during training camp. “He’s got the ability, the talent and what we’re trying to get him to do is, as a player, let it go. I think that’ll come once he knows all the blocking schemes a little better (and) how he’s being attacked.”

Since joining the Lions, Reid said he’s tried to pick up workout tips from teammates, especially All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Although he’s 307 pounds, he’s one of the more muscle-bound linemen in the locker room, and hopes to use his strength once he has a chance to play more.

“I want to be fast,” he said. “I want to be fit and I’m hoping that my skills will soon translate on this level.”