DJ Reader showed why he offers Lions game-changing defensive leadership

The Detroit Lions have added DJ Reader in free agency, and during his introductory press conference he immediately showed why he'll be a difference maker off the field too.

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The Detroit Lions made their biggest move of free agency thus far on Thursday, inking defensive tackle DJ Reader to a two-year deal. He spoke to the media immediately after the deal was announced, and by all accounts he was impressive.

Reader knows what the Lions are going through after losing the NFC Championship Game. After he signed with the Bengals in 2020, they went to the Super Bowl, losing to the Los Angeles Rams.

"I was telling them upstairs, these guys got that same taste in their mouth that I got. I got to a Super Bowl and lost, these guys got to an NFC Championship and lost. So everybody in this building has that same goal to go get that taste out of their mouth and I'm so ecstatic about that part... I don't think we're going to take it lightly as a team to go out there and do our thing."

That mindset speaks to what makes Reader special beyond what he does on the field, and why the Lions were lucky he was weighing his options in free agency.

At 29 (30 on July 1), Reader is far from old. But as an eight-year veteran, with a lot of playoff experience, he's ready to step right in as a prominent leader for his new team.

DJ Reader excited to be a leader for the Lions

Reader spoke about his new defensive linemates, including a mentorship role he's looking forward to with 2023 third-round pick Brodric Martin. Martin was clearly a developmental pick, and he barely played during his rookie season.

"He's a young pup. He's running around trying to figure things out. So I can't wait to get my hands on him and just talk to him," said Reader. "Talk to him about ball, how to play this position, especially at nose guard position. This is a unique position and there's a right way to do it. And there's a wrong way to do it. And there's just things you can learn."

Reader is also excited to team up with Alim McNeill, who is still a fairly young player himself.

Super excited," Reader said Thursday of playing alongside McNeill next season. "Young player who has a lot a lot of talent.... I'm excited to pair with him, see the things that he does well. I watch him all the time on film. I'm excited to just get around him and be able to pick his brain about what he likes about the position. Every guy got different things they enjoy about playing D-tackle, I've got things I enjoy, so I just want to talk to him about it and pick his brain and see what he's got going on and see what our future holds."

Joining a group of like-minded players he can help, Reader is looking forward to what he can provide for the Lions' defense to try and push them over the top. This could be the beginning of a very fruitful relationship.

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