Jesse James thinks he can fill bigger role with Detroit Lions offense

Carlos Monarrez
Detroit Free Press
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Even while being introduced as a new member of the Detroit Lions, tight end Jesse James didn’t shy away from the truth or the recent ugly past he experienced with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The most glaring example of the dysfunction in the Steel City came from receiver Antonio Brown’s dramatic episode that ended with his trade this week to the Oakland Raiders. James, who played for the Steelers the past four seasons, gave his take on the fiasco.

“It had to happen,” he said Thursday in Allen Park. “It was time for him to move on from Pittsburgh and time for Pittsburgh to move on from him. I think things blew out of control pretty fast there.

“Didn’t expect it to go the way it did and as fast as it did. But happy the Steelers and him are at peace and willing to move on. And really happy that’s over with.”

New Lions safety Andrew Adams tormented Cam Newton last season ]

Jesse James has averaged 37.3 catches per year over the past three seasons.

James, who signed a four-year, $28.5-million contract with the Lions, was candid in a 10-minute interview with Detroit reporters. He didn’t back off from comments he made in December about the Steelers feeling like the Kardashians as the Brown and Le’Veon Bell dramas unfolded.

James could have easily sidestepped the Steelers situation by citing his desire to move forward and not relive the past. But James addressed topics “head on,” including his desire to want an expanded role on offense that he didn’t have in Pittsburgh.

“I think my role here can be greater and I’ll be able to do more things,” he said. “My game has grown every year. I know from what I was last year I’m going to be better player next year.”

James caught nine touchdown passes the past four years. But last year, he lost playing time to Vance McDonald, and caught only two touchdowns. He did have a career best 423 receiving yards on 30 catches (14.1 yards per reception).

“In Pittsburgh, I was splitting time with Vance, so I was more of a first- and second-down and he would come in in third (down),” James said. “So I’m looking forward to having that challenge of being in there on third down and helping the offense succeed in those high-pressure moments: the red zone, third down, double (coverage) situations on third down and the red zone. I just think I can do more.

“Like I’ve said, I’ve gotten better every day. I’m still young, 24 years old. My ceiling hasn’t been reached yet.”

James said several things factored into his reason for joining the Lions, and included among them were coach Matt Patricia’s hard-driving mindset.

“I think coach Patricia’s going to push me,” he said. “Coach (Darrell) Bevell, coach (Chris) White are going to help bring things out of my game that I don’t really even know what’s possible yet. I think I’m going to grow as a player over the next couple months.”

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