Wide receiver DJ Chark is in the midst of his first training camp with the Detroit Lions. I have joined the Lions on a one-year, $10 million deal this offseason.
The 25-year-old spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, with whom he accumulated 147 receptions, 2,042 yards and 15 touchdowns in 43 games.
The veteran wideout played in just four games a season ago, after suffering a left ankle injury in the Jaguars’ Week 4 loss to the reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals. He has admitted to reporters at training camp practice Thursday that he’s still working his way back from the injury.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Chark expressed. “Every day I come in, I work it a little harder. Today, spending more time (in the training room) before coming out, but I’m the type of the guy that I don’t want to let any of these things hinder me. We have a good training staff that put a plan together for me. But, like any other injury, it takes time. But, I like where I’m at, at this point in my recovery.”
The LSU product is still not 100 percent healthy, and is still in the process of getting acclimated to the Lions’ offense and starting signal-caller Jared Goff.
The 6-foot-4, 198-pound wideout spent the offseason with Goff in California, training with him and a few other Detroit pass-catchers. And, to Chark, the chemistry is building between him and the veteran quarterback.
“(I’m) getting used to the way he throws the ball,” Chark said. “He’s very consistent with the way he throws. At this point, I kind of know where to expect the ball to be.”
That’s a good thing for a guy who is expected to be the go-to deep threat for Goff and company in 2022, especially early on in the season while rookie receiver Jameson Williams is on the mend.
Chark, who is equipped at running the entire route tree, is looking forward to not only stretching the field vertically but also horizontally in his first season in Honolulu Blue. According to the Louisiana native, it’s something that new Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson would like to see him do as a member of the Lions.
“Vertically is cool, but there’s so much field to run across horizontally that he allows in this offense, which helps out a lot,” Chark said. “If they are in man or match, you can stretch the field on gos and posts, but also crossing routes, where the same guy has to cover you for more distance across the field.”
Chark basically only lined up in the “X’” receiver spot in Jacksonville. Despite that being the case, though, he expressed Thursday that he’s ready to embrace the challenge of a more diverse role in Johnson’s offense.
“I like the challenge of running different routes and being in different spots and not being stuck in one spot for too long of a period,” he commented.
This article was produced by the staff at Sports Illustrated/All Lions. For more, visit si.com/nfl/lions.