Is it time to start talking about Detroit Lions second-year WR Amon-Ra St. Brown as one of the best slot receivers in the NFL?
What he did Thursday on a national stage in Detroit's 28-25 loss to Buffalo could start the conversation.
St. Brown caught nine passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, which now gives him 65 receptions on the year for 716 yards and four touchdowns. He should easily surpass 1,000 receiving yards in his second season with six games remaining, and he just passed Gail Cogdill (1,598) for the third most receiving yards a Lions player has produced in his first two NFL seasons.
St. Brown now has 1,614 receiving yards through two seasons. He's caught 26 of his 29 targets the last three games alone.
"He's one of the top guys in the league at this point, and certainly, as good as anybody in the slot right now," Lions quarterback Jared Goff said of St. Brown.
"He helps us a lot when he's up and rolling and healthy, and having those guys back around (him) certainly helped too. Just getting guys that can stretch the field, and other targets that are potent in their own right."
It was the first time the Lions had St. Brown, DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds, their top three receivers to start the season, on the field together since Week 3. The Lions should also get rookie Jameson Williams back on the field in the coming weeks, and that should open things up even more for St. Brown to operate in the middle of the field.
It's clear St. Brown has become the No. 1 receiver for Goff, but it's time to talk about him being one of the better receivers in the entire league.
It sounds like cornerback Jerry Jacobs could be headed to concussion protocol after leaving the game Thursday in the fourth quarter. Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Jacobs felt lightheaded while down on the field, and there's a chance he'll be in the return-to-play concussion protocol.
"He feels a little off, so we'll see," Campbell said. "We'll see."
There wasn't an update on the elbow injury suffered by linebacker Julian Okwara in the second half, but that didn't look good at the time. Rookie James Houston stepped in and did a nice job in place of Okwara. Houston recorded two sacks in his NFL debut after being elevated from the practice squad on Wednesday.
"Yeah, he has some special pass rush abilities that we've been seeing for weeks," linebacker Alex Anzalone said of Houston after the game. "Just trying to find a way to get him up. He definitely capitalized on his opportunities, and they were not ready for him. It's fun to watch when young guys like that get an opportunity and capitalize on it."
There were a number of plays the Lions would certainly like back from Thursday's loss. They lost a fumble, missed a field goal and gave up a safety.
They also had some untimely penalties, one of which was a roughing the passer penalty on defensive lineman Austin Bryant at the Lions' 15-yard line on a 2nd and 10 incompletion late in the game on Buffalo's penultimate possession. Buffalo ended up scoring a touchdown and taking the lead two plays after Bryant's penalty gave them a first down instead of having to navigate 3rd and 10.
Campbell lamented that penalty in particular after the game. The coaches talked with the players before the game that referee Clete Blakeman and his crew call more of those roughing penalties than other crews, and they had to be careful around the quarterback late.
"Yeah, I mean they (the players) should know better," Campbell said. "We knew that crew that was one of the things we talked about. That crew is unnecessary roughness, and you get close to the quarterback they're going to call it. So, they've been educated on that, and it just comes down to discipline."
Anzalone produced nine tackles (seven solo), one pass defended and one interception against the Bills. Since joining the Lions in 2021, he has 12 passed defended, tied for the NFL lead among all linebackers in that span.