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Holmes describes what newly signed WR DJ Chark brings to Lions

PALM BEACH, Fla. – One of the big free-agent acquisitions the Detroit Lions and general manager Brad Holmes made this offseason was the signing of veteran wide receiver DJ Chark to a one-year deal to boost Detroit's receiver corps.

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

It's that kind of big-play production Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said he wanted to add to his offense the most this offseason, and Holmes thinks Chark will certainly provide that for them.

"In DJ, you're talking about a guy who can take the top off the defense," Holmes said this week at NFL owners meetings. "He's got legit speed, he's got size, he's got length, he's got ball skills.

"We have good collaboration sessions between personnel and coaching in our building and we just want to make sure we're all on the same page. Ben (Johnson) and (head coach) Dan (Campbell) and El (wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El) we're on the same page in terms of what we're looking for at that X receiver position."

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, and a player who can gain separation and win 50-50 balls, which certainly fits the description of what Johnson was looking to add.

Holmes said Chark can play multiple roles in their offense.

"The great thing about Ben is that you know look, that's what he said he wants at the X receiver position, but it's not saying (Chark) can't move around and be at different positions," Holmes said.

"He can play a little bit of slot, play a little bit of Z. So, that's a cool thing. With Ben's creativity, obviously DJ brings a lot of great qualities, and like I told you guys last time, No. 1 overall is that he's a football player, so those are the best qualities that he brings."

Holmes is hopeful Chark takes off in Detroit's offense in 2022, and the Lions and Chark can then be in a position to work on a longer-term deal.

"Look, end of the year ... hopefully we're in a position where we're looking to sign DJ back long-term or that we would have to franchise him or whatever it is. There's a lot of different scenarios that you can go down," Holmes said.

"There's a lot of reasons to go to the one-year deal, but it's not for anything lack of belief, it was just the best fit for both parties. But there's nothing but optimism that we're looking at."

After signing with the Lions, Chark said culture fit and family were both big for him, and he found that in Detroit. He's ready to prove himself, and Holmes and the Lions are confident he will.

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