Joe Gilliam Jersey

A Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback not many remember, but a story worth telling.

My last name is not very common, so I sat down at my computer to look for others that might share my last name, Gilliam. The results did not have a huge celebrity base, but I did find a British director, a Christian singer and a San Fransisco 49ers’ offensive lineman.

I continued the search and found there is a Gilliam county in Oregon and a general in the Mormon Wars. I did happen to come across a picture of a QB wearing a black and gold jersey throwing a football who’s name on the back was Gilliam and I was intrigued to learn more.
Joe Gilliam played for my favorite NFL team the Pittsburgh Steelers and he actually replaced Terry Bradshaw as the starter one year during their heyday in the 70’s. I stopped reading and thought, wait what? He replaced a four time Super Bowl champion?

Questions came flooding in and I wanted to know when this happened, how it happened and where is he now? Who the heck is this guy? I am a die hard Steelers fan and I have never heard of him.

I read on quickly but intensely, focused on every word and meaning to find more information and the answers to my questions . What I learned about him, the 70’s in America and the NFL was very interesting to say the least.

Joe Gilliam was the first African American QB named as the starter going into week one.
He replaced Terry Bradshaw in the 1974 season after outplaying him in the preseason.  The Steelers won their first of four Super Bowls that year.
NFL QB’s were allowed to call their own plays during this time
Since Joe could call his own plays, he decided to call too many pass plays and did not listen to the coach. He ignoring team rules and game plans and was benched after 6 games.
Joe Gilliam might have been BETTER than Terry Bradshaw. Terry even admits it saying that “It could of easily of been Gilliam who took the Steelers to their first Super Bowl and not me.”
Racism was bad at the time. Some seemed to not be able to accept a black QB and there were reports that his car was vandalized and he had death threats
When he was benched Joe had a 4-1-1 record  (Wikipedia). There was some speculation as to why he was being benched with a winning record. There were people who thought that it was racially motivated.
Drugs seemed to destroy his career and life. To cope with the benching and the racism he faced, Joe turned to drugs which eventually caused him to be cut by the Steelers and later become homeless.
Mr. Gilliam died at the young age of 49.

The NFL is filled with stories of this nature. Players who fought their demons and lost or could not cope with the overwhelming pressure of professional sports. I have been an avid Steeler fan my entire life. When I was in the 5th grade I wrote a report on Terry Bradshaw because I loved football and my favorite team.

Terry Bradshaw Jersey

Terry Bradshaw has come to Ben Roethlisberger’s defense after Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell’s recent criticism of Big Ben’s leadership. Bradshaw, Pittsburgh’s quarterback from 1970-83 and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was recently asked by TMZSports about the recent criticism that’s been thrown at Roethlisberger.

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“He’s a great leader,” said Bradshaw, who was also critical of Roethlisberger earlier in his career. “He is. He’s solid.”

Bradshaw was also asked what he thought of Brown and Bell’s criticisms of Big Ben. Brown said that Roethlisberger has an “owner’s mentality”, while Bell said that he didn’t feel that his relationship with Big Ben was genuine. Both players have made it clear that their relationships with Roethlisberger played a factor in their decisions to leave the Steelers.
“That’s their opinion,” Bradshaw said. “That’s their opinion. I’m not there, I’m not in that locker room, I can’t answer that. I don’t know.”

“I don’t understand it,” Bradshaw continued. “All I know that the Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Jesse James, the tight end, they’re going to lose the safety (Morgan Burnett). I’m worried about our team.”

Bradshaw was asked if Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s leadership style should be what’s really being criticized. Bradshaw, an NFL analyst on Fox Sports, has been very vocal in his criticism of Tomlin’s coaching style in the past.

“Once again, I’m not there,” Bradshaw said. “From what I’ve seen outside, the coach I had was the kind of coach you needed to win championships, and that’s what we did.”
Bradshaw’s coach, Chuck Noll, inherited arguably the NFL’s worst franchise in 1969 and turned it into a Super Bowl champion just five years later. Noll’s Steelers went on to become the third NFL franchise to win two Super Bowls and the first franchise to win three and four Vince Lombardi Trophies. Noll’s Steelers remain the only team in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowl championships twice. In all, the Steelers won four Super Bowls in a six-year span in the 1970s while going 4-0 in Super Bowl competition.

The irony in Bradshaw’s new comments on Noll is the fact that Bradshaw loathed the way Noll treated him during his years with the Steelers. Bradshaw has said on numerous occasions that he wished that the Steelers would have traded him so that he could have played for another coach. Apparently, with time, age and maturity, Bradshaw now understands that Noll was simply trying to get the best out of him as well as his teammates. The fact that they are arguably the greatest team in NFL history is proof that Noll’s coaching style paid off.

Bradshaw, who earned MVP honors in Pittsburgh’s victories in Super Bowl XIII and XIV, is still the only Steelers quarterback that has won a league MVP award, doing so during the 1978 campaign. While he doesn’t know if Roethlisberger will even win an MVP award, he does believe that Big Ben will get his contract extension at some point this offseason.

“He’ll get the contract,” Bradshaw said. “He deserves it.”

Vince Williams Jersey

Le’Veon Bell quickly reacted to his new team’s matchup against his old team as soon it was announced that the Jets would host the Steelers in Week 16. Vince Williams, Pittsburgh’s starting inside linebacker, has responded to Bell’s message with one of his own.


Bell isn’t the most popular person in Pittsburgh after sitting out the entire 2018 season, then signing a longterm deal with the New York Jets earlier this offseason. Bell, voted twice by his former teammates as the Steelers’ team MVP during his time in Pittsburgh, will play against the Steelers when the Jets host Pittsburgh during the 2019 regular season.
While he upset many of his teammates after deciding not to show up last season, Bell and his former teammates have appeared to have patched things up. Bell and Cam Heyward shared pleasantries on Twitter last week after Bell posted a video of himself making a big play in Madden ’19.


Earlier in the week, Bell shared a recent message sent to him by the man that replaced him in Pittsburgh, James Conner. In light of Antonio Brown’s public criticism of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Conner felt that he needed to show his appreciation for Brown and his unwavering support. Bell, according to Conner, sent Conner encouraging messages throughout the 2018 season.


While Bell’s career has taken him to a new city, the 27-year-old running back provided plenty of memories during the first four years of his NFL career. After struggling during his first two NFL games, Bell’s 93-yard rushing performance helped the Steelers edge the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 of the 2013 season to give Pittsburgh their first victory of the season. Bell’s solid play down the stretch helped Pittsburgh finish the year with an 8-8 record after a 2-6 start. That season, Bell broke Franco Harris’ 41-year-old record for the most yards from scrimmage by a Steelers’ rookie.

Bell’s breakout season took place in 2014, as the former Michigan State standout rushed for 1,361 yards and eight scores while also catching 83 passes for 854 yards and three touchdowns. Bell’s performance that season earned him his first All-Pro selection as well as his first team MVP award. He also helped Pittsburgh make the playoffs after a two-year absence while winning their first division championship since 2010.
After an injury wiped out most of his 2015 campaign, Bell enjoyed his best NFL season in 2016. Despite missing four games, Bell still racked up 1,884 all-purpose yards while rushing for a franchise record 236 yards and three scores in a late season victory in Buffalo over the Bills. Bell spearheaded Pittsburgh’s nine-game winning streak that included rushing performances of 167 and 170 yards (the later the most rushing yards by a Steeler in a playoff game) in the team’s postseason victories over the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. But for the third consecutive season, Bell’s season would end with an injury, as he was forced to leave Pittsburgh’s AFC title game loss to New England in the second quarter.

Bell enjoyed another strong season in 2017, amassing 1,944 all-purpose yards in 15 regular season games. After scoring two touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bell embarked on a tumultuous offseason with regard to his contract situation. While both sides tried, Bell and the Steelers were unable to come to terms on a longterm contract, essentially marking the end of Bell’s time with the organization.

While Bell’s legacy with the Steelers isn’t what it once was, it appears that his relationship with his former teammates has been repaired, as both sides are apparently choosing to remember the good times during their four seasons together.

Ramon Foster Jersey

Ramon Foster warned former Pittsburgh Steelers players not to “burn too many bridges” Thursday in a not-so-subliminal social media post.

The long-time Steelers offensive lineman posted the message after a feud between former star wide receiver Antonio Brown and his ex-teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster surfaced earlier in the week on Twitter.
Brown — who was traded to the Oakland Raiders this off-season — took to social media Sunday to voice his displeasure over his former franchise naming Smith-Schuster the 2018 Steelers Most Valuable Player. The players then got into a brief social media spat, before other voices from the Steelers and around the league chimed in with their opinions about Brown.

Brown played nine seasons for the Steelers, while Foster is entering his 11th season with the franchise.
“Moving forward, any former player or affiliate of the Steelers who has an issue with anyone still in the locker room, please contact me or Maurkice Pouncey or anyone else you feel you can talk to,” Foster wrote in his message Thursday. “Whoever you have an issue with, we will get you their number so you can address them. I promise.”

"These media takes might give y'all good traffic on your social media outlets but the guys still in that locker room, who y'all still know personally, have to answer for those comments. Call them what you want, but call them personally and tell them. Defend who you want to defend but you don't have to mention the team at all."

"Whether you have a ring or played for one year ... enough ... chill. Most players at one point in their life want to take their kids back to the place where they once played, don't burn too many bridges. It's a long history or brotherhood more than anything. Business is one thing but let's keep it at a minimum for the guys who have to answer for those comments moving forward."

The Steelers do not face the Raiders during the 2019 regular season.

David DeCastro Jersey

David DeCastro is the Steelers nominee for the fifth annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, presented to a player for his outstanding sportsmanship on the field, including fair play, respect for the game, and integrity in competition.

“He just does it the right way,” said Maurkice Pouncey. “He shows up for work, he doesn’t talk that much, and when he does you listen. He plays the right way. He isn’t dirty at all. He just likes being physical playing football. To have him around, and the things he does and the way he is, he makes football fun and easy. He earns respect from opponents for the way he plays the game. Everybody loves him.”

The award was created in 2014 to honor Art Rooney Sr., the founder of the Steelers and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Art Rooney is an iconic figure in NFL history,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the time the award was introduced. “It is appropriate that we honor his legacy in this way and recognize NFL players for one of the important values that Mr. Rooney represented so well.”

DeCastro continually provides an example for younger players to follow for his dedication, determination, work ethic and the way he plays with integrity. It’s something his teammates notice, and can’t say enough good things about him.

“David has a very special relationship with football. It’s very unique. It’s a romance,” said Alejandro Villanueva. “He always tells me about the first time he played football and he quit in seventh or eighth grade because he didn’t like it. He came back to it his junior year and started doing very well. He never thought he would play in the NFL, but knew Stanford was a great university that would open a lot of doors in his life. He realized the potential he had to play in the NFL, and he has had a great approach. He never takes anything for granted. He is always taking care of the details. He plays to not let his teammates down and be a part of something bigger than himself. He likes being one of the guys.

“He doesn’t feel anything negative towards his opponent. He knows it’s not personal. He respects every single offensive lineman in the NFL. He has great relationships with the guys he looks up to, guys he respects and watches. The same thing with guys he goes against. He has so much respect for Geno Atkins. He talks about how he watches his game and compliments him all of the time when he watches him. Same thing with Aaron Donald, who trains here in the offseason. He has respect for opponents and that rubs off on the rest of us. He is someone who is good for the game. He respects players for who they are, not for what they are supposed to do.

“For younger players he is a role model because he is always doing the right thing. He never says anything out of line. He doesn’t do any of the things coach tells us not to do. He is the perfect Steelers player. He does everything right. If you are wondering how you should approach your career, take care of your body, treat others, face challenges, you just look at what David is doing. He always has a very intelligent and well thought out plan on how to accomplish any challenges that come up in your career.”

One player from every team was nominated for the award, and eight finalists, four in each conference, will be selected by members of the NFL Legends Community, including Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler.

Current players will have the final say, with them voting on the winner from the eight finalists, although they can’t vote for their teammate. The winner is announced during the NFL Honors show the night before Super Bowl LIII.

The winner will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice and the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Trophy, which represents the key role sportsmanship plays in the game and how NFL players who demonstrate integrity and honor on the field serve as role models.

“It is gratifying that sportsmanship is the category,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II when the award was announced in 2014. “It’s appropriate. I like to think of my grandfather as someone who truly was a good sport, somebody who cared about the respect and the integrity of the game. The fact it’s being voted on by the players, well, the recipient can feel good about it because it’s voted on by his peers.”
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Jordan Berry Jersey

All of the Steelers Killer B’s were a mess at one point or another last year.

Bell never played.

Brown went AWOL.

Ben threw a lot of picks.

And Boz missed too many kicks.

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Heck, even Jordan Berry struggled punting at times. But he seemed to get back on track toward the end of the season. That never seemed to happen for his kicking partner, Chris Boswell, though.

Wes Uhler and I interviewed Berry on Steelers Nation Radio and ESPN Pittsburgh last week at the Pittsburgh International Auto Show. We talked to Berry about Boswell’s bad year. Was it more a mental issue or physical problem?
“I’m not in his head so I really can’t tell that,” Berry said. “But he’s got one of the best kicks in the league.

“He was definitely hitting the ball well.”

Maybe the issues were from the neck up, then. For his part, Berry said that when it comes to his discipline of punting, the wires usually get crossed upstairs far more than they do mechanically.

“I feel like the mental part of it is the majority of — if not 90 percent — of what we do,” Berry said. “No one in the NFL is going to have horrendous technique. But it’s that mental aspect of being able to stay on top of things from the first day of OTAs right through to game days and into the playoffs.”

Now the question for Berry becomes whether he will be back with the Steelers next year. The 2018 campaign was a bit bumpy for Berry early. Head coach Mike Tomlin even threatened a competition, referring to his punter as “less than varsity.”

Berry was able to straighten out his act as the season went along, however. Even though he is a free agent at this point, he sounded confident about his chances of being resigned in Pittsburgh.

“From what I can tell everything is looking pretty positive,” Berry said. “We just have to let all the money guys sort their stuff out. Just wait to hear some good news hopefully.”

At another point in the interview, we also talked about Berry’s famous trick punt at Eastern Kentucky. It’s the one where he burned an 11-man all-out block attempt from Morehead State by kicking the ball behind the line of scrimmage to one of his gunners.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch.
And, yes, it was legal.

Alejandro Villanueva Jersey

It’s not many colleges that have a decorated war hero and a professional athlete as the principal commencement speaker, but Saint Vincent College has found one person who can lay claim to being both — former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, who is an offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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The college on Friday announced that Villanueva, a decorated Army Ranger, a National Football League Pro Bowler and noted humanitarian, will speak at commencement on May 11 at the Robert S. Carey Student Center on campus.

Villanueva, who graduated in 2010 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a degree in systems engineering, plays for the Steelers, whose summer training camp is, and has been for more than 50 years, at Saint Vincent College in Unity.

Villanueva served three tours of duty in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2013 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He earned a Bronze Star Medal for valor for rescuing wounded soldiers from enemy fire.

Villanueva, a Pittsburgh resident, has been with the Steelers since 2014 and has been a starter since the 2016 season. In 2017, he became the first service academy alum to make the Pro Bowl since Navy’s Roger Staubach in 1979.

Villanueva has spoken often about the importance of his Catholic faith in reaching out to help others, and in addition to his decorated military and football careers.

Through the Steelers’ Social Justice Grant program, Villanueva gives his time to many worthy causes, including the Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard. Through Veterans Place, he has helped to deliver and furnish townhouse properties where veterans live to provide them with a boost and comforts as they battle personal struggles. He also regularly visits patients at the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration hospital.

He has donated proceeds from the royalties of the sales of his No. 78 Steelers jersey to various charities in Pittsburgh, as well as in the cities of the Steelers’ three other divisional foes, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore, benefiting school systems and area police officers and first responders.

Villanueva and his wife, Madelyn, have one son and two daughters.

Chris Boswell Jersey

Steelers kicker Chris Boswell slips on the turf while attempting a field goal against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018.

Final in an offseason series breaking down the Steelers:

There were plenty of reasons for the Steelers missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2013. The defense let the team down late in the season when the Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints came back and scored late to secure victories. The offense didn’t help matters by turning the ball over 26 times, many at inopportune moments that contributed to the late-season collapse.

No one would be wrong when citing these facts. It’s just that the 9-6-1 season also can be boiled down one other way: Place-kicker Chris Boswell went from very good to very bad in the span of a few months.

When the Steelers were 13-3 and the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs in 2017, Boswell made 92 percent of his field-goal attempts, including four game-winners in the final seconds of games against the Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens.
Last season, Boswell converted just 65 percent of his attempts and missed several field goals in crucial spots that could have helped the Steelers win games.

To borrow an old line from Bill Cowher: “There’s a fine line between winning and losing football games.”

The Steelers found that out the hard way.

Things got so bad for Boswell that there was an in-season kicking competition and then a late-season injury that forced the Steelers to sign Matt McGrane, who kicked the game-winning field goal in the regular-season finale against the Bengals.

The kicking competition was mostly for show because the Steelers were not going to cut Boswell four months after making him one of the highest-paid kickers in the league. Boswell signed a four-year, $16.8 million deal that paid him $7.3 million in guaranteed money.

The Steelers are hoping Boswell can regain his previous form in 2019 because if he’s not on the team, he’ll still count $6.8 million against the salary cap. After taking on more than $21 million in a dead cap hit on Antonio Brown, it’s something the Steelers desperately want to avoid with Boswell, who had developed a reputation for being one of the best kickers in clutch moments in the NFL since entering the league in 2015.
There wasn’t much to celebrate for any of the special teams in 2018. Punter Jordan Berry ranked near the bottom of the league in average and net average. He was among the top 10 in the league in pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line but rarely had the ability to pin teams inside the 10.

The Steelers signed Berry last month, but they’ll likely bring in some competition this summer to push him in training camp. With 10 picks in the draft next month, it’s not out of the question for the Steelers to use one of them on a punter in the late rounds.

The punt-coverage unit didn’t help Berry, or vice versa. The Steelers finished last in the NFL in punt return yards allowed with a 14.4 yards-per-return average. They allowed three yards per return more than any other team in the NFL. Detroit was second-to-last with an 11.4 average. The inability to cover punts was especially costly when the unit allowed a 73-yard touchdown on a punt return against the Chargers that contributed to the Steelers blowing a big lead.

The Steelers traded for receiver/return specialist Ryan Switzer just before last season began to help improve the punt and kick return game. Switzer was reliable in his role for the most part, but he finished a pedestrian 13th in the league in punt-return average (8.4) and last among kick returners (20.4) with at least 22 returns. His longest kick return was 35 yards and his longest punt return was just 23 yards.

Eli Rogers missed most of last season with a knee injury, but he has punt-return experience and should provide some competition for Switzer.

There was one piece of good news for the Steelers’ special teams. They covered kicks well. They were fifth in kickoff returns allowed (20.8) and did not allow a touchdown as coach Danny Smith was among those who figured out a way to benefit from the league’s new rules on kick returns.

Smith is back for his seventh season with the Steelers. He can only hope the rest of his units follow suit next fall.

Stephon Tuitt Jersey

Coming into a coaching position which was once held by a man held in very high acclaim, like John Mitchell, can be difficult. But that was the exact situation Karl Dunbar saw himself in last season after Mike Tomlin decided to promote Mitchell to assistant coach, and hired Dunbar to take over as heir to the defensive line throne.

For players like Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave, Mitchell was all they’ve known since entering the NFL. But that doesn’t mean Dunbar didn’t do the job and create a new standard for the players who fall under his tutelage.

In fact, veteran defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt was more than pleased with how Dunbar handled him and the entire Steelers’ defensive line.

“He [Dunbar] demanded me to be a great player,” Tuitt told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “To be confident to know you are a great player. He has a whole different style than Coach Mitchell. Coach Mitchell brought a lot of great stuff out in me. Coach Dunbar brought out some different stuff. At the end of the day he taught me skills that pertain to what I have naturally, and helped me heighten those skills. Skills like hand usage. The ability to understand protection. The ability to understand formations. My hips. Things like that. To be able to play faster from those.”

Tuitt realizes he still has a ton of things he can improve upon to become an even more dominant player.

“It can always be better, but I had a tremendous amount of growth last year and I am excited about that,” said Tuitt. “I grew in new ways that they wanted me to, new ways of me discovering things about myself to become the player I can be.”

Where can Tuitt continue to improve? How about not just getting to plays, but making plays? Sounds crazy, but Tuitt believes he is just a step away from really wrecking the opposition.

“All of the defensive linemen, we joke about me,” said Tuitt. “I get there right before the quarterback is ready to throw the ball. It’s just understanding what I need to do to get there faster. Taking the next step to get there. I am there. I am always there. I just need to get there faster.

“You can make the impact play. You stop the drive, stop the offense at the line of scrimmage. The ability to stop them. The ability to be confident in what you are doing. The ability to be faster. That is the key.”

Throughout the interview, possibly the best aspect was when Tuitt described getting a sack at the NFL level, and dominating those opposite him.

“It’s a lot of hard work trying to get a sack,” said Tuitt. “It’s the offensive line’s job not to allow you to get a sack. When you get one it’s like you are taking away from what they are getting paid to do. When you get in the quarterback’s head, and the person who is getting paid to stop you from getting there, that is an exhilarating feeling. That is like I am dominating you and I am going to keep dominating.”

Jesse James Jersey

Two things stuck out right away when Lions head coach Matt Patricia was evaluating new tight end Jesse James. 1. James’ toughness playing in-line. 2. James’ catch radius with his 6-foot-7 frame.

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In the end, he and general manager Bob Quinn saw James as a fit in Detroit, as they attempt to revamp the tight end position. They’re both expecting James to play a big role in some crucial situations.

“He’s a young player,” Patricia said of James Tuesday at the Annual League Meetings. “Works really hard. He’s tough. I played against him for a lot of years. Love his grit, love his grind and love the way he kind of attacks the game.

“We know he can do things in the run game. The beauty about it is he’s a big target. This guy has a big catch radius. He’s long and he can catch the ball.”

Over the last three seasons, James recorded 112 receptions for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns, but it was veteran Vance McDonald that took most of the third down and red zone snaps in Pittsburgh. James could have more of a role in that regard in Detroit.

“We’re excited about that possibility,” Patricia said.

James was also excited about the potential to be a key piece in the passing game at his introductory press conference.

“Offensively, I wasn’t used (in Pittsburgh) the way I feel I could be used here,” he said. “I feel like my ceiling here is going to be much higher than it was in the past.

“I think coach Bevell does a great job of using his personnel the best way they can be. I’m just looking forward to the process.”

James logged a career-high 423 receiving yards and averaged 14.1 yards per reception with a 76.9 percent catch rate last season. He’s also a solid pass blocker, who can help seal the edge against good pass rushers.

The Lions ranked just 25th in the NFL last season converting on third down (36.1 percent), and they were 24th in red-zone touchdown percentage, scoring a touchdown just over half the time (53.1). The Lions think James can help in those two areas.

“Another versatile guy that can block, he can catch, he can run routes,” Quinn said of James on Monday. “Another tall target. The more length at that position the bigger catch radius the bigger red-zone threat and that’s something we tried to improve on.

“Tight end was not a real strong position for us last year, as we all talked about after the season, and this is one area we wanted to improve on and Jesse was a guy we kind of honed in on early in the process.”