Watching rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown last week at the first Lions open practice, it's clear the Lions plan to use the young pass catcher in a lot of different ways. We saw St. Brown line up both out wide and in the slot at receiver, and he was one of four players returning punts on special teams.
That was kind of the scouting report coming into the NFL for St. Brown. USC used him all over the field, even in the backfield some, and it appears the Lions see him with that same kind of skill set, at least early on.
St. Brown is versatile and tough, and the Lions are quickly learning something else about their rookie fourth-round pick. He's all business, too.
View photos from the third day of OTAs on Thursday, May 27.
"For a rookie, he's all business, and you can tell he's very focused," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said before last week's open OTA practice. "He's very detail oriented for a rookie. He listens to what (receivers coach Antwaan Randle) El is telling him. I feel like he knows the playbook pretty good to this point, and there's just things about him and you see it and you're like, 'OK, there again, he's a football player.'
"He definitely has taken this serious and we know he's got some ability. I would tell you he's growing, he really is. And not just growing in the receiver room, there's things he's doing in Dave Fipp's area of the field, the special teams, that you're like, 'OK, this is pretty good.' I think he's right on track. Just keep growing and small steps every day. But it's been good. It's been a good week for him."
St. Brown already said this offseason he's using the fact that he was the 16th receiver drafted as personal motivation to make a big impact as a rookie. He made an immediate impact as a freshman at USC in 2018 with 60 catches for 750 yards and three touchdowns. He finished his three-year college career with 178 receptions, including a 77-catch, 1,042-yard sophomore campaign in 2019. He had seven touchdowns in six games played last season.
St. Brown's father, John, was a two-time Mr. Universe bodybuilder and was named Mr. World three times. St. Brown was around the professional athletic environment from an early age, and John trained his boys – Equanimeous, Osiris and Amon-Ra – to be world-class athletes. Equanimeous is a wide receiver for the Packers.
Campbell appreciates St. Brown's maturity and business-like approach.
"I hate to call it rare, but I don't think you see a lot of it," Campbell said. "A lot of it – it's not anybody else's fault, sometimes they just don't know. They don't know. They don't even know what it takes. They don't know what it's supposed to look like.
"But this kid, you can tell, some people have shaped him the right way and have taught him these things and he's taken it to heart because he does, his approach is just a little bit different. There's a little bit more of an edge and seriousness about him and look, I kind of like that."
St. Brown will have an opportunity to carve out an early role in Detroit's revamped receiver room. He's making a good early impression and showing that he can wear a lot of different hats in Detroit. That should bode well for him.