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Camp Spotlight: Tight end Jesse James


Position: Tight end

Ht/Wt: 6-7, 250

College: Penn State

Experience: 5th season

View photos of tight end Jesse James from Day 5 of Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage.

Outlook: James enters his fifth season after spending his first four years in Pittsburgh with the Steelers.

He caught 30 passes for 423 yards and a couple scores last season, and had a career high 43 receptions and three touchdowns the year prior in 2017. James is a big target with a huge catch radius, and was graded among the top 20 players at the position last year, despite being the No. 2 tight end in Pittsburgh behind Vance McDonald. James was also graded as a plus run blocker by PFF.

He's going to get more opportunities in Detroit to play on third down and in the red zone. We should see a significant increase in his production because of that. He and first-round pick T.J. Hockenson look to be upgrades at the position, and could see the field together in more 12 personnel situations for Detroit this season. Both players are getting a lot of first-team reps early in camp.

Practice report: James found himself matched up a lot Tuesday with second-year safety Tracy Walker, which isn't too much of a surprise given that Walker is getting a lot of run at one of the starting safety spots.

James' best play of the day came in a red zone period where he was able to create a little space between himself and Walker. James made a catch around the 5-yard line heading toward the sideline. It was a race to the pylon from there, and had this been a live hitting drill, it would have been interesting to see if James or Walker would have won the battle at the goal line. James beat Walker on a short in route in 1-on-1 pass catching drills vs. the defensive backs. He also caught the first ball in a 7-on-7 period, a short grab over the middle.

James and quarterback Matthew Stafford weren't on the same page on another rep in 1-on-1s, however, when James found himself matched up with cornerback Rashaan Melvin. It looked like Stafford was thinking back shoulder and James kept running downfield. That's what camp is for, right?

Quotable: "I'm having a lot of fun," James said after Tuesday's practice. "The guys here have been great. The coaching staff has been awesome for us. They make those long meetings not seem so bad. I'm here enjoying it and enjoying the process and taking it one day at a time and I still have a long way to go."

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