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What AFC head coaches said about Reader, Robertson & Zeitler

ORLANDO – Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes was true to his word when he said after the season that maintaining a strong offensive line wasn't going to be overlooked this offseason.

Detroit re-signed veteran guard Graham Glasgow early in free agency, and after losing Jonah Jackson to the Rams, the Lions signed Pro Bowl veteran guard Kevin Zeitler in a move that solidifies the unit and should keep Detroit's offensive line as one of the best in the NFL.

"Kevin Zeitler, all ball, every single day," Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said at the AFC coaches breakfast at the Annual League Meetings Monday morning.

Apparently Zeitler's wife, Sara, also left a good impression on Harbaugh and the Ravens with her baking skills.

"Ball and baking," Harbaugh joked. "His wife bakes the best stuff. Everybody in Detroit and that building is going to get the best baked goods they've ever had in their life."

View photos of new Detroit Lions offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler.

Even at age 34, Harbaugh said the Lions are getting a player with a lot left in the tank.

"Kevin is an excellent football player and has a lot left in the tank," he said. "Very tough, physical guy. A lot of ways was about the personality of our team."

Under Harbaugh, Baltimore's always been a tough, physical football team.

Zeitler has been extremely durable during his career, starting 15 or more games each of the past nine seasons, which includes over 1,000 snaps in eight of those seasons. He's allowed three or fewer sacks every season since his rookie year and was the No. 2 pass protecting guard as graded by Pro Football Focus last season.

During his last three years with Baltimore, he has allowed on average just 15 quarterback pressures per season.

The Lions plan to put him between Frank Ragnow and Penei Sewell at right guard with Glasgow shifting over to left guard.


Detroit added veteran cornerback Amik Robertson in free agency, and Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce said Monday the Lions are getting a ball hawk and a culture fit.

"You hate to say it, but he's kind of got little man's complex," Pierce said of Robertson. "He plays bigger than what he is. You look at a 5-8, 5-9 guy, but extremely talented and gifted competitor. Sad to see him go but very proud of him."

Robertson had at least four interceptions in each of his three seasons at Louisiana Tech and has two in each of the last two seasons for the Raiders to go along with 15 passes defended as a key contributor and starter.

"He did an extremely good job for us," Pierce said. "Always battled. Was always the next man up and when he got the opportunity this year made the most of it."

Robertson, 25, a former fourth-round pick by the Raiders out of Louisiana Tech in 2020, has played in 52 games over the last four seasons with 21 starts.

He started 12 games last season with 50 tackles (38 solo), two interceptions and six passes defended. Opponents completed less than 60 percent of the passes thrown his way with an 87.4 passer rating and three touchdowns. He's played over 600 snaps (60 percent) in each of the last two seasons.

He can play both outside and in the slot, which gives the Lions another versatile defender in their cornerback room to pair with Carlton Davis III, Brian Branch, Emmanuel Moseley and others.


It didn't take long into DJ Reader's introductory press conference in Detroit to realize the Lions were getting a terrific leader on top of a great player. Reader talked about being a sounding board for the younger players and taking guys like second-year DL Brodric Martin under his wing.

"He was a great leader for us and tremendous player," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said of Reader on Monday. "Everything that we wanted our players to be about and our leaders to be about. Was consistent with his effort and performance and has made some critical plays for us in some critical games that we'll always remember. I wish DJ the best of luck and I know (Lions defensive line coach) Terrell Williams will take good care of him."

Reader, 30, a two-time captain for the Bengals, is a dominant interior defender who has been terrific against the run throughout his career. He was graded the No. 10 interior run defender in the NFL last season, two spots behind Detroit's Alim McNeill, which now gives the Lions a formidable wall along the interior of their defensive line against the run.

Reader can also provide some disruption in the passing game. He's produced at least 32 pressures in each of the last three seasons.

"He's just a champion," Taylor said of Reader. "He's won championships at Clemson. He was part of some big moments here in Cincinnati for us and I know that's why Detroit is bringing him in."

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