Is Kalif Raymond a sneaky key piece of the Detroit Lions’ offense?
Kalif Raymond got a lot of opportunity last year, but is he a sneaky key piece of the Detroit Lions’ offense in 2022?
It came in a roundabout way, but opportunity landed in the lap of Kalif Raymond in his first year as a Detroit Lion last year. With Breshad Perriman cut before the season and Tyrell Williams not making it through Week 1 before being injured, Raymond wound up as more than Detroit’s primary punt returner.
Raymond easily set career-high with 48 catches (fourth on the team) for 576 yards (third on the team) and four touchdowns. His 11.2 yard punt return average was top-five in the league among players with at least 20 returns.
The Lions brought Raymond back on a two-year deal this offseason. His role is easy to see as up in the air, with the additions of DJ Chark in free agency and Jameson Williams in the draft. Josh Reynolds was also re-signed, so he’ll be around for a full season after being picked up midseason last year.
Is Kalif Raymond a sneaky key piece of the Lions’ offense?
Via SI.com, Lions head coach Dan Campbell has talked about the ways Raymond can be used and the trust he has earned from the coacing staff.
"We know we can use him as a gadget and put him in at the Z, if we need him right now to take a load. We know we can put him in at the F, if we need him to play a load of the slot.”He brings a ton of versatility and really trust, reliability,” Campbell said. “Like, we know exactly who he is, what he’s going to be for us, and what he can do."
According to Player Profiler Raymond played 191 snaps in the slot last year, out of 742 total snaps (via Pro Football Reference) and he had 28 yards on four rushing attempts. So there certainly appears to be some room to use him differently, and get the ball in his hands as a runner a little more without overdoing it.
Raymond is a small guy (5-foot-8, 180 pounds or so), and he plays with little regard for that relative disadvantage at times. So there is the chance of putting him at physical risk with too much work.
But with Williams possibly not ready until a few weeks into season as he works his way back from a torn ACL, Raymond’s prominent role from last season may not go away as quickly as thought possible. With offensive coordinator Ben Johnson bringing a different imagination to the Lions’ offense, it will be interesting to see how he’s able to integrate Raymond’s skill set.