Lions notes: WR Reynolds relishes opportunity to be top option
Allen Park — Josh Reynolds isn't sure whether the Detroit Lions made an offer this spring, when the wide receiver was a free agent. And he isn't certain whether two days of practice will be enough time for him to get acclimated with his new surroundings and play in Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But he does believe one thing; this is where he's supposed to be.
"I was more than excited hearing about Detroit," Reynolds said, when he learned he was being claimed off waivers by the Lions. "Just seeing how close games have been for them, and seeing the grit they display every week, it's easy for me, man.
"I didn't leave to go to a winning team, otherwise I would have stayed in Tennessee," Reynolds said, referencing his request to be released by the Titans. "I came to compete and come to a great culture and that's what I'm feeling. I've been here not even 24 hours yet and I can just feel the love that everybody has for each other and just the connection everybody has got."
Reynolds, a fourth-round pick in 2017, has always played second (or third) fiddle. During his first four seasons with Los Angeles, he was rarely the first option in a passing attack headed by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
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Signing with Tennessee as a free agent this offseason, he appeared primed to step into the No. 2 receiving role opposite A.J. Brown following the departure of Corey Davis, but the Titans traded for Julio Jones a few months later, pushing Reynolds down the depth chart.
In Detroit, where rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown leads the team with 27 catches midway through the season, Reynolds has an opportunity to be a top target for quarterback Jared Goff, his former quarterback in L.A.
"Oh man, it’s what I came for," Reynolds said. "I’ve been preparing my whole career for it, preparing like I was a starter regardless of whether I wasn’t or not, and hoping it’s time to have it pay off. That’s what I’m excited for."
Reynolds described himself as a big-bodied receiver capable of coming down with contested catches in the deep passing game. And he said he was grateful for his four years with the Rams, where he was able to develop into a better route runner, while expanding his versatility with snaps in the slot.
Now he's eager to showcase all that in Detroit.
"Coming in halfway through the season, I've got to make the best of my opportunities, no matter how little or how much," he said. "I'm here to help the team win, whether it's coaching guys up or catching passes, it doesn't really matter. I'm here to help these guys win and build this culture."
Offense gets extra attention
After getting thumped by the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of the bye week, Lions coach Dan Campbell promised to go through the tape of the team's offensive struggles three times before doing anything else.
Now, coming out of the week off, he's taking a more hands-on approach in an effort to get the anemic unit on track.
“I would say it involves spending a lot more time with the offense than maybe the other two phases, investment," Campbell said. "I just want to be able to meet with the quarterback more, talk with him, just know that I feel like I have a handprint in it I guess if you will. It’s just investing a lot more time.”
For Campbell, it's an all-hands-on-deck approach, and one that's being embraced by offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, who said his boss brings a lot to the table after working the past five years with Sean Payton in New Orleans.
“Let me say this, he is not lying about the collaboration because he is definitely more involved," Lynn said. "He has been involved the whole time anyway. He’s called plays during games, as most offensive head coaches do. When I was in his shoes, I did that a lot. But yeah, he has definitely been more involved in meetings and more communication with the quarterback and I’m sure you’ll see that on Sunday.
"... This is his football team," Lynn said. "He is not stepping on my toes. This is his football team. My job is to coordinate this offense and support his vision the best I can.”
Looking forward by burying the past
Maybe it sounds a little corny or cliche, but Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn felt his unit got a cathartic release out of symbolically burying the game tape following the team's 44-6 loss to the Eagles.
"I looked at it as myself, personally, that these first games are over with," Glenn said. "All the mistakes, all the arguments, all the issues, they're gone. They're done. Now it's time to move on to this last part of the season. Our guys, I think they really liked it because afterwards, I think every defensive player when they buried it, they jumped on it, they stomped on it."
After forcing the Eagles to punt on the game's opening possession, the visitors scored each of their next seven series, excluding taking a single knee to end the first half.
During a normal week, Glenn would let those failures simmer, but he thought it was important for his players to relax and reset during their lone down time during the season.
"What we do is any time you come off a bye week, you look at it as a restart," Glenn said. "I think that's one of the reasons why we buried — well, I know it's why I did — we buried that first eight games, because of that. We wanted to let those results be gone, out of our system. Wherever you're going to go on the bye week, go relax and let it be gone, because we have these next nine games that we've got to go out there and be the best that we can be."
Backfield depth reassuring
Running back Jamal Williams remained sidelined with a thigh injury during Thursday's practice. If the starting running back is unable to play on Sunday, the team will continue to lean on D'Andre Swift to shoulder the load, while also feeling better about the ability of rookie Jermar Jefferson and converted safety Godwin Igwebuike to contribute after both had a decent outings against the Eagles.
"You turn the film on, or you go back and look at it, those guys went in there and they functioned pretty well," running backs coach Duce Staley said. "Now I gotta do a good job as a coach, making sure I get them in the right position so we can be successful."
Jefferson, playing his first offensive snaps of the season, scored the Lions' lone touchdown, weaving through defenders for an 8-yard score in the fourth quarter. He also chipped in four receptions for 23 yards.
Igwebuike ended up with 58 yards from scrimmage on three carries and three catches, highlighted by an 18-yard grab at the end of the first half.
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