The additions of DJ Chark and Jameson Williams have gotten a lot of the headlines, but the re-signing of veteran Josh Reynolds this offseason was an underrated move that could really help boost the Lions' receiving corps.
Head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson get a lot of credit for improving the Lions' passing game the second half of last season after Campbell took over play-calling duties from Anthony Lynn and Johnson was elevated to pass game coordinator, and they should.
But Reynolds deserves some of the credit too after signing midseason last year and giving quarterback Jared Goff and the Lions a much-needed vertical threat on the outside.
In seven games with the Lions last year after signing with the team following his release from Tennessee, Reynolds was targeted 36 times and caught 19 passes for 306 yards and a couple scores. He averaged 16.1 yards per reception.
The team re-signed Reynolds this offseason and he's had a really nice start to training camp.
"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 of Reynolds. "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. He's a smooth athlete and he's a grinder, he's smart and Jared trusts him. And so, I can't say enough about that room in general and he's a big piece of that."
Campbell seems to have has a nickname for every player on the roster, but Reynolds' might be the best.
"He's a different athlete, he's slippery, man. I call him the 'praying mantis,' he's a spider of death," Campbell said of Reynolds. "He's just – there's something about him, so – freaking serpent. So, I love where he's at right now. I really do, I'm glad we got him."
Reynolds found the nicknames given to him by his head coach pretty amusing.
"I was always 'big smooth,'" Reynolds said Saturday with a laugh. "Looks like now I'm 'praying mantis.' I like it though, man. That thing is deadly."
Reynolds has been consistently running with the first-team offense in camp. He's in a really good place with his comfort level in the offense having had an offseason and a spring to immerse himself in it. He's always had a good rapport with Goff from their time together with the Rams, and that's been evident so far through the first week of camp.
View photos from Day 4 of Detroit Lions training camp on Saturday July 30, 2022.
Reynolds said it's been great to have the opportunity to continue to build that rapport with Goff through the offseason training program, throwing sessions in California, and now early in camp.
There's a lot of competition in the receiver room, even with Williams not taking part in practice as he continues to rehab a knee injury. It's a room with a lot of complementary pieces, and Reynolds brings a little bit of everything to the table. He's got length (6-3, 194), speed, great hands, and has proved to be a pretty savvy route runner.
Reynolds has shown early in camp he can find open space and move the chains. His return, along with the additions of Chark and Williams, should help make the wide receivers be difference makers for the Lions' offense.