In Week 15 vs. Arizona, wide receiver Amon- Ra St. Brown set the franchise record for the most receptions by a rookie, breaking the old record of 58 receptions set by running back Jahvid Best in 2010. St. Brown enters Week 16 with 65 catches.
But the rookie out of USC has proven to be much more than just a reliable pass catcher. He brings a toughness to the receiver position and is a very willing and capable blocker. In that sense, he reminds offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn of former Steelers great Hines Ward.
"Oh my goodness, just the way he blocks and Hines was so crafty with his footwork and Saint is learning when to be crafty and when not to be," Lynn said Thursday. "So, that would be the first comparison I would make."
Last week's game was a good example of St. Brown being that crafty, physical player in the Ward mold. His sneak route for the touchdown in the first half was as crafty as they come, selling a block, then the drag, and finding the open space to cut up field behind the defense for the touchdown. He also made a number of good blocks down field to spring runs, which is something he's done all year.
"With his skillset inside, it's easier for him to be a high-target guy because he blocks so well in the run game," Lynn said. "So many times, he's gone in to make a hard block and in the passing he's going in and they think it's going to be a hard block and he's slipping by people getting open. So, it goes hand in hand."
St. Brown has certainly been a very promising player in his first season. If he ends up being anywhere close to the player Ward was in Pittsburgh, Detroit might have found a true steal in the fourth round of the draft.
ORUWARIYE MISSES PRACTICE AGAIN
Lions starting outside cornerback Amani Oruwariye, the only Lions corner to play in every game this year, missed his second straight practice Thursday with a thumb injury.
It's not clear when the injury occurred because he didn't appear to leave last week's game injured or receive medical attention on the sideline.
His absence from practice to begin the week puts his availability for Sunday's game into question. Game designations come out Friday afternoon.
Cordarrelle Patterson has made his biggest mark up to this point in his nine-year NFL career as an elite returner. But this year in Atlanta he's showing he's much more than that.
Patterson has 565 rushing yards on 133 carries with a 4.2-yard average and five touchdowns. He's also got 524 receiving yards on 48 receptions for another five receiving touchdowns. Plus he's still dangerous as a return man. Talk about a triple threat.
Patterson played a little bit of running back at the end of his time in Chicago last year, and the Falcons have a couple guys on their staff – OC Dave Ragone and QB coach Charles London – that were with him in Chicago.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021.
"You have to give a lot of credit to that head coach (Arthur Smith), offensive coordinator (Dave Ragone), as far as putting him in those positions," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of Patterson Thursday.
"But, you're right because they have a lot of different personnel packages and we have to make sure that we don't get so lost in all of the different personnel packages, which allows our guys to just go out there and play and just be aware of where he's at and understand he's a threat. That's what we always do each week, 'Who are the guys that are threats to make sure we can try to take those guys out?'
TAKE NOTE OF TERRELL
Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell is quickly becoming one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL.
He's Pro Football Focus' second highest graded cornerback this season, and some of the numbers he's putting up are really impressive. He's been thrown at 52 times, allowing just 23 receptions (44.2 percent). Opponents have just 150 total passing yards when throwing his way, and he's allowed three touchdown passes all year.
Opposing quarterbacks have a 54.6 passer rating when throwing his way, per Pro Football Focus statistics.
He might be playing a little angry Sunday too because he was a Pro Bowl snub this week.