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Culture & family brought new Lions WR DJ Chark to Detroit

Culture. Family. Fit.

Those were just a few of the reasons Lions wide receiver DJ Chark detailed during his introductory press conference in Allen Park Thursday to explain why Detroit was the best place for him to sign.

"We were talking to my agent and different players that was here… the culture is big and that's something that I really want," Chark said. "I really want to be part of a family and it feels like I'm entering one. Now I feel like it's on me to prove myself, but I feel like this was a very comfortable decision for me."

Chark said he turned down more than one multi-year offer from other teams because he thought the fit was best in Detroit. Former Lions players Marvin Jones Jr. and Jamal Agnew, teammates of Chark's last year in Jacksonville, had nothing but good things to say about Detroit when Chark talked to them about joining the Lions.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes introduced Chark to the media Thursday, and said the veteran receiver emerged as a favorite early in the free-agent process. Chark fits the culture Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell are trying to build with the Lions.

The Lions were on the lookout for a wide receiver who could win outside the numbers and be a force in the red zone. They believe Chark can be that player.

"That's what we're looking for, is someone that outside the numbers, predominantly, can win a one-on-one, and if he's good at his job, dictates coverage," offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said at the scouting combine last month.

The 6-foot-4 Chark was a second-round pick out of LSU in 2018. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds and recorded a 40-inch vertical jump. He's a vertical threat with good hands, who can gain separation and win 50-50 balls.

Chark earned a Pro Bowl nod in Jacksonville in 2019 when he recorded a career-high 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns on 73 catches.

With Chark and Josh Reynolds penciled in on the outside, Amon-Ra St. Brown in the slot, T.J. Hockenson at tight end and D’Andre Swift at running back, the Lions have the makings of a pretty dynamic skill position group. And there's still room to add more players through free agency or the NFL Draft.

"I feel like it's a good core of guys," Chark said about how he fits in the offense. "I feel like (they are) underrated, probably under-appreciated, and I feel like I can come here and work with these guys and be able to show my work as well."

Injuries the last two seasons (16 games missed) have limited Chark's production. In Jacksonville's first four games last season, he caught seven passes and averaged 22.0 yards per reception with two touchdowns, but a broken ankle suffered Week 5 ended his season. Chark said his rehab is going great and he'll be full go when football starts.

Chark joins a Lions receiving corps that includes St. Brown, who had six straight games with at least eight catches to finish the season while playing a variety of roles on offense, along with the newly re-signed Reynolds and third-year receiver Quintez Cephus.

"It's something I embrace," Chark said of the challenge the last two years dealing with injuries. "I appreciate the opportunity to come here and show what I can do.

"Last year was my first time ever sitting out that many games in my career and being out watching the whole football season go by gives you a lot of feelings. One feeling is hunger. I really, really can't wait to get out there and be the best that I can be. That's what I've come here to do. Give my best and see where the chips fall."

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