Detroit Lions rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown gained headlines this week after his short skirmish with fellow rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu during a special teams drill. However, his most noteworthy moment during practice this week went largely overlooked by many.
During one-on-one drills again the secondary, St. Brown lined up against the team’s prized cornerback Jeff Okudah three times in a short period of time. It’s not often you see two players lined up against each other in three successive reps, just a few plays apart from each other. It turns out those matchups were no coincidence.
“Went against Jeff, and then he had a pretty good play on me on the slant. So I told him I wanted to go against him again, so then I kind of cut the line and went again,” St. Brown admitted on Thursday. “Then I caught a ball, and he wanted me to go against him, so he called me out and I cut the line again and I went again.”
St. Brown actually caught all three balls in his reps against the 2020 third overall NFL Draft pick, though Okudah stopped him after a short gain on the first matchup.
St. Brown slid all the way to the fourth round in the 2021 NFL Draft, but in Detroit, he’ll get an opportunity to start right away. The Lions’ receiver room has overturned this offseason, leaving the starting slot receiver job wide open for the taking.
Thus far, he’s taken most of the reps with the first-team offense. He’s likely headed for a significant role in his first year, so taking the opportunity to go against a No. 1 corner in practice is a way to get sharp before his NFL career officially starts.
“Jeff’s an amazing corner. He’s been balling all of camp. So for me, it was just a challenge,” St. Brown said. “I wanted to go against one of our top corners. He challenges me, and I love it. We challenge each other. It’s awesome to have a teammate like that you can go against every day, just compete and make yourself better.”
That sort of initiative is a surprise to no one in camp. St. Brown came to Detroit already with a reputation as a competitor.
“We had a pretty good idea of Amon-Ra, ‘The Sun God’, what he’s capable of,” head coach Dan Campbell said earlier this week. “Just when he gets pads on, he’s aggressive. It showed up on tape in college, like this guy will mix it up.”