The Detroit Lions' lone trade deadline move, to the chagrin of some, was acquiring wide receiver Donovan People-Jones from the Cleveland Browns. His production had dropped off this season in Cleveland, but there was hope the Lions get him on a better track.
Depending on the position they play, getting a new player acclimated and up to speed in the middle of a season is a challenge. For a wide receiver, from an on-field functionality perspective, it's learning a new playbook (or at least new verbiage), building a connection with a new quarterback, etc.
Peoples-Jones missed what would have been his first game as Lion with a rib issue that dated back to his time with the Browns. He made his debut in Week 11 against the Chicago Bears, and through four games he has zero catches on two targets over 23 offensive snaps.
From here, there's really nowhere to go but up for Peoples-Jones.
Lions hoping to get Donovan Peoples-Jones more involved
On Monday, via SI.com, head coach Dan Campbell talked about Peoples-Jones.
Yeah, I think that, man we always felt like he was part of the room. He’s part of what we have in there. We’ve got a lot of confidence in (Amon-Ra St. Brown) Saint and Josh Reynolds. (Jameson Williams) Jamo’s coming on," "Kalif Raymond) Leaf, we know is kind of our specialist, does a little bit of a lot of different jobs for us, and so we just feel like he’s very much part of the crew and we wanted to make sure he got used to what we’re doing, he felt comfortable in our scheme and terminology."
"Every week, we’re trying to get him just a little bit more, so we certainly feel like he’s part of this receiving group and we always want to try to get him a little bit more involved.....We feel good about the receiver room and he’s part of it.”
During Pride of Detroit's charity live stream on Tuesday, wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El also talked about Peoples-Jones.
"He's come along. What I've seen out of him, which is really encouraging, out of anything that he could do right now, he has gotten this game plan," Randle El said. "Our offense, the things that we've taught him, he's gotten it and understood it. That is a big deal, coming mid season from one team to the next and to drop the old stuff, forget the old stuff... "It's just a matter of time, really getting him in. We're getting him in more and more, trying to get him some snaps, we're just loaded right now, which is a good thing offensively, with the weapons that we have."
Peoples-Jones played 12 snaps last week against the Saints, which was more than he had in his first two games a Lion combined. Cracking a deep receiver rotation won't be easy, but it would be nice to see him make some impactful plays and the opportunities may start to come.