Jesse James towered over the Detroit Lions’ podium as he softly introduced himself to the local media on Thursday afternoon. As journalists leaned forward to hear the softly-spoken, 6-foot-7 tight end, James spoke bluntly about his time in Pittsburgh and why he’s excited to be a Lion, and a lot of it has to do with putting the Steelers behind him.
“I had some success in Pittsburgh, (but) I think it could have been better,” James said at the top of the presser. “Offensively, I wasn’t used the way I feel like I could be use here. I feel like my ceiling is going to be much higher than it was in the past.”
James’ is particularly excited to be utilized in situations in which he wasn’t given an opportunity while with the Steelers. Mainly, he wants to bloom into a three-down tight end and a red zone threat.
“I think I can be used more in situational type of plays and down in the red zone,” James said. “A lot of times in Pittsburgh, I was splitting time with Vance (McDonald) so I was more of a first and second down and then he’d come in on third. So I’m looking forward to having that challenge of being in there on third down helping the offense succeed in those high-pressure moments—the red zone, third down.”
In four years in Pittsburgh, James only had nine touchdowns and of his 120 career receptions, only 19 have come on third down, according to Pro Football Reference.
James thinks Detroit is the perfect place for his game to expand, thanks to a coaching staff he trusts.
“I think coach Patricia is going to push me,” James said. “Coach (Darrell) Bevell, (TE) coach (Chris) White they’re going to help bring things out of my game that I don’t even know what’s possible yet. So feel I’m going to grow a lot as a player over the next couple months and hopefully lead into the season.
That being said, it’s clear James has no ill will towards Pittsburgh, especially considering it’s his home town and playing for the Steelers was a dream. He called it a “hard place to leave,” even if there was a lot of drama.
But, ultimately, his goal is the same.
“I got to live the dream for four years. I’m looking forward to living that dream here and growing into what I can be as a player and try to get that Super Bowl ring here.”