This year, the Detroit Lions brought in some big offensive weapons by signing former Pro Bowl receiver DJ Chark and using the 12th overall pick on wideout Jameson Williams. However, coach Dan Campbell is perhaps most encouraged by the early play of returning receiver Josh Reynolds.
“He came into spring in great shape and I was pleased with what he was able to do and how he was able to help us towards the end of last year,” Campbell said. “But he came into this spring and caught my eye again, and I felt like he even took a step forward from there. I like this guy. I’m kind of buying stock on him. I think he could have a big year.”
Of course, you know you’ve really caught Campbell’s attention when he’s given you a quirky nickname.
“I call him ‘the praying mantis,’ he’s a spider of death. He’s just—there’s something about him—freaking serpent.”
The Lions claimed Reynolds off of waivers in the middle of last season, and his chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff, whom he played with for four years with the Los Angeles Rams, was almost immediately apparent. That connection was a big reason for the offense’s late-season turnaround, as Reynolds pulled in 19 catches for 306 yards and two touchdowns in just five starts.
Now with an entire offseason together again, Reynolds is ready to take it to the next level.
“It’s a world of difference to be able to just kinda — we’ve kind of had that rapport. But to be able to continue to build on it? It’s awesome,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds’ best season came in 2020, catching 52 passes for 618 yards and two touchdowns. That year, Reynolds started 13 games for the Rams as the outside option opposite Robert Woods.
He could be in a similar situation this year in Detroit, as the Lions figure to rely heavily on him early in the season. With Williams a likely candidate to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Reynolds figures to be a Week 1 starter. But unlike last season—when Reynolds was the team’s only true outside option—he will benefit from DJ Chark drawing attention from opposing defenses. Having Amon-Ra St. Brown in the lineup after an impressive finish to his rookie season won’t hurt either.
“We got guys that can do everything,” Reynolds said. “We got speedy guys. We got long guys. And all of them make plays.”