Lions hoping change of scenery can unlock potential of toolsy WR Mims

Detroit News

Allen Park — In the early stages of the team’s rebuild, a notable component of the Detroit Lions’ roster-building strategy was bringing in players who had something to prove, a chip on the shoulder that often came from failing to meet expectations at their previous stops. Even though the Lions are rounding the corner into contention, there continues to be room for that mentality on the roster.

The latest potential reclamation project is receiver Denzel Mims, a former second-round pick who never quite managed to find his footing in three seasons with the New York Jets. The Lions acquired him last week in a trade, for the low cost of a conditional late-round draft pick.

Obviously, the coaching staff is just getting familiar with the talent, but the potential with the athletic, 6-foot-3 receiver is obvious.

“He’s a guy that has tools,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “He’s a big receiver and he has speed. He has length and kind of relative of looking at what do you want to work with. This guy has the ability and let’s see if we can do something. Let’s see if a change in scenery helps this guy. It’s the traits. We know the kid will work. We’ve heard that. He has a level of toughness about him, so we’ll see where we can take it.”

Not surprisingly, Mims didn’t participate in much of the team portions of the first training camp practice on Sunday, but he ran through individual drills and spent an extensive amount of time after the session working with position coach Antwaan Randle El, who escorted his newest pupil to the meeting room after practice to continue the crash course, begging off interview requests for Mims until Monday.

Mims’ physical gifts are undeniable. He brings some much-needed size to Detroit’s receiving corps, paired with speed that can only be matched by last year’s first-round pick Jameson Williams. It’s a combination that has the attention of starting quarterback Jared Goff.

“He’s a guy that obviously has had different things happen throughout his career, but lands here, and we’re excited about him,” Goff said. “I’m certainly excited about him. I can’t wait to work with him. I’ve told him that. I know he brings an element to our team that we can use. As soon as he gets caught up to speed, it will be exciting to see him work with us.”

Short on reps, given the timing of the addition, Goff said the key to building chemistry with Mims will be conversations off the field.

“It’s honestly just talking to him as much as possible,” Goff said. “We will get a lot of reps (as camp progresses), but how can I learn as much as I can about him, not only as a player, but as a person, get to know him and grow that chemistry and that bond that will serve us right on Sundays?”

In three seasons with the Jets, Mims caught 42 passes for 676 yards. He’s still looking for his first NFL touchdown. At Baylor from 2017-2019, he racked up 182 grabs for nearly 3,000 yards while finding the end zone 28 times.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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