Early Friday morning, newly re-signed wide receiver Kalif Raymond arrived back in Detroit and took questions from local media in person at the team’s facility. Justin Rogers from the Detroit News had a solid write-up of the session, but you can watch the entire appearance for yourself on the team’s official YouTube channel.
A recurring theme in his answers was his appreciation for the value of preparation. Over and over, Raymond emphasized how putting in hard work before game situations equipped him to be decisive in the moment and play fast. Asked about the details he works on as a punt returner, he told a story about how in 2017 he bought himself a Jugs machine, “went to Colorado (he had just spent the 2016 season with the Denver Broncos), and... caught thousands of punts.” The extreme number of repetitions made fielding punts falling from the sky an instinctive skill for him:
“Like left, right, just so that way during that aspect (of the punt return play) I wasn’t thinking about catching the football. I was just thinking about making plays. I knew that was something in my game that was important, something that’s kept me in the NFL. I definitely think quantity is a big part of that game, too, because (it’s) the same thing with catching passes. . . it’s almost at a point to where it’s just, it’s in your nature to do that.”
The preparation work put in by the veteran receiver extends off the field as well, searching for tricks and techniques from other NFL receivers on tape. When asked if it’s common practice to look at film for players the Lions sign to see how they mesh with what he and the other players on the roster can do, Raymond said he didn’t wait until the Lions signed Chark to examine his route running and skills:
“I watch everybody’s film, so I knew DJ (Chark). But when he was out, I went through the whole Jaguars roster already, so I know all the receivers on there, man. I think there’s always to improve your game. . . You can learn at any given moment, and the minute you stop improving, that’s when the next guy comes in. So, like I said I had already known who he was. I do a lot of guys in the league just because i’m constantly scouring film to see new routes, new techniques and ‘what can I do to improve my game?’
So, yeah i’ll watch a lot of film. Yes, sir.”
Another interesting note was a follow-up to the Jugs work Raymond told us about last September. Talking about the energy in the wide receiver room where the players feed off each others’ competitiveness and work ethic, Raymond disclosed that staying late to do extra work catching passes from the machine spread to the rest of the receivers as well:
For instance, Ra (Amon-Ra St. Brown) caught 200 passes, 202 to be exact. I’m on the Jugs. KhaDarel (Hodge) and Trinity (Brown), they’re at the (practice field) even on the days that nobody can see. Man, they were out there catching passes with each other.
One day, I’m out there. . . I’m walking out of the facility and they’re in there catching passes. Off the Jugs. I’m like, ‘wait a minute, what?’ So of course, I’m supposed to be resting, but I’m like ‘no, they’re catching passes. I’m about to go in there,’ so I literally in casual clothes i’m catching passes with them.
But like, you have guys that play and work like that? I mean, when we get to the game, imagine how much different my game was—that their game was—because we caught Jugs that day when everybody else was gone. So, the more people you can have like that in the room, I mean I can only imagine if there’s six, ten, twelve wideouts all doing the same thing at the practice. I mean, that’s going to grow because if DJ (Chark) goes out and catches, or J-Rey (Josh Reynolds) and catch, or QC (Quintez Cephus) goes and catch? I’m going to go catch, and we all just got that much better.
It’s great to see the veteran leaders setting the tone like this for the team. The entire media session is just 15 minutes but still a great watch. If Raymond’s enthusiasm hasn’t already gotten you to love him, there’s this behind the scenes revelation from MLive’s Ben Raven:
Lions WR Kalif Raymond creeps around the corner after his presser, runs to the media table, drops two Panera bags and sprints aways. A+ re-signing imo pic.twitter.com/OvfrWpSTWg— Benjamin Raven (@BenjaminSRaven) March 18, 2022
We had some fine discussion among the POD staff about bagels after this act of kindness by Raymond. Anyway, he’s a great guy we’re pleased to see back with the Lions, and we wish him all the success in the world during the upcoming season. Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:
- Our very own Erik Schlitt was a guest on Anthony Bellino’s morning show X’s and BrO’s on Friday to talk about the Lions. You can listen to the entire segment in a web player on the show’s iHeart archive or Omny.fm clips archive.
- DJ Chark was given the green light from Austin Seibert to wear jersey number 4 next season:
A receiver having to get permission from a kicker to get a jersey number. Now I’ve seen everything. https://t.co/NO45xoRXaN— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) March 18, 2022
- MLive’s Kyle Meinke and Ben Raven spoke to John Shipley (who covers the Jacksonville Jaguars) about new Lions receiver DJ Chark on the latest episode of their Dungeon of Doom podcast.
- Mustache admirer Duce Staley put in some coaching work while attending the South Carolina pro day:
WATCH - A pretty cool moment at @GamecockFB Pro Day today as former Gamecock and current Detroit Lions RB Coach Duce Staley gave some tips to Tight End Jaheim Bell (@dba_bell ) alongside HC @CoachSBeamer . @WLTX #Gamecocks pic.twitter.com/eqGuvTb64q— Chandler Mack (@chandlerdmack) March 18, 2022
- Speaking of former Lions: