Detroit Lions to host free agent defensive tackle D.J. Reader on visit Thursday

D.J. Reader lingers available as the league year officially starts, and the Detroit Lions will bring him for a visit.

Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

The "official" start of 2024 NFL free agency will come Wednesday afternoon, with all the deals that have been reported can become official. Free agents who remain available can also start making visits to teams, old-school style, and according to multiple reports (Bleacher Report, NFL Network) the Detroit Lions will host defensive tackle D.J. Reader.

Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report specifically reported the visit will happen on Thursday.

Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reported earlier in the week that the Lions were among the teams with "strong interest" in Reader. Pro Football Focus also tabbed him as a potential fit for the Lions before free agency started.

Reader has spent the last four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He is a stout run defender, but he's also an underrated pass rusher with at least 32 pressures in four of the last five seasons according to Pro Football Focus. He is one of the top free agents still available, regardless of position.

Reason Detroit Lions are hosting D.J. Reader for a visit feels clear

Beyond seeing if he's an intangible fit, the chief reason the Lions are bringing Reader in for a visit feels very clear.

He missed the end of last season with a torn right quad tendon. He tore his left quad and missed all but five games in 2020, his first season with the Bengals. He missed a total of seven games in 2022, including six due to a knee injury. He has played at least 14 game in six of his eight NFL seasons (he spent his first four with the Houston Texans), but the injuries he has had over the last few years are not insignificant.

The Lions don't mind taking a chance on players coming off an injury. But they aren't going to sign Reader, coming off a torn quad that ended his 2023 season, sight unseen and without doing some medical evaluation interlaced with his visit.

The Lions could use an upgrade next to Alim McNeill at defensive tackle, and a veteran addition there feels likely. If Reader checks out medically and he is deemed a good overall fit, he could be that addition before the week e

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