A little-used and eventually disgruntled player with the New York Jets, wide receiver Denzel Mims wanted, needed and eventually (finally?) got a change of scenery when the Detroit Lions traded for him last month.
Apart from injuries, issues with route running, drops etc. and a lack of production when he did get on the field with the Jets, there were reports out of New York that he refused to play special teams to further draw the ire of a coaching staff he did not jive with.
Mims has a chance to make the Lions' 53-man roster, maybe a really good chance to do so if he has a good training camp and plays well in preseason games. But to prove worthy of a roster spot as the fourth or fifth receiver, he'll have to show himself to be someone who can contribute on special teams. To say that's a change for him is to state the majorly obvious.
Denzel Mims embracing special teams in effort to take advantage of fresh start with the Lions
On Tuesday, via SI.com, Lions head coach Dan Campbell talked about Mims fairly extensively.
"I like Mims. Here’s the first thing that shows up for him, aside from the size, because he’s an imposing figure for a receiver out there at X, but man he’s physical. You get out there and press him and it shows up, like it’s different. He can fight out there, he can battle versus press. Here’s the other thing I love. He’s never been a special teams guy. We told him from day one you’ve got to do some things, We need to see if you can do some things on (special) teams. "
"To his credit, for a guy who’s never really done it, I mean, he’s out here, he’s going," "Fipp (special teams coach Dave Fipp) and I were talking about him last night. We’re watching these clips. I’m like, 'This guy’s just competing.' Now, he’s got a long way to go. He’s raw in some things. But, I appreciate that the guy has come in and done everything he said he would. He said, ‘Coach, I’ll do whatever and I’ll give you whatever I got.’ And he’s doing it, so I respect the heck out of that. He’s somebody that I’m really, I want to see if he can take another step and there’s some things he can do for us on offense.”"- Dan Campbell
Mims knows he has to reverse the early narrative of his career, and do things he maybe was hesistant to do with the Jets--namely take on playing special teams with some aplomb. That kind of knowledge doesn't always come with action for players in his situation, so credit to Mims for embracing a different role and getting noticed by the Lions' coaches for doing so.