One can’t help but admire the sheer determination of Kalif Raymond. The seventh-year wide receiver, signed by the Detroit Lions in 2021, has been striving for a consistent role in the team’s offense from the moment he put pen to paper. The challenge lies in the ever-improving Lions’ roster that has somewhat hindered his consistent field time. But what’s noteworthy is Raymond’s performances in those intermittent moments that have cemented respect for him among his teammates and coaches in Detroit.
Catching balls “until his hands hurt”
Even as veterans took time off during the Lions’ OTA’s, Raymond was out on the field, working hard alongside the rookies and the other youngsters. Post-practice, he’s often the last man standing, catching punts and passes from the jugs machine “until his hands hurt.” When asked about his practice sessions, Raymond’s response was heartening. “I have no idea.” he shared with columnist Mike O’Hara of detroitlions.com, speaking of the number of punts he caught post-practice. “I try to catch as many as I can. I had a rough day yesterday. I’m trying to build good habits.”
If I can just be a day better then hopefully I can be steadily increasing.
Raymond has become a crucial player for the Lions in his two seasons as a wide receiver and punt returner. His ability to function in a multitude of roles makes him a dependable asset for the Lions.
In the 2022 season, Raymond recorded career-highs in receptions, yards, and punt return yards. He was the first Lion to top 200 punt return yards in consecutive seasons since Jeremy Ross from 2013-14. He hauled in 47 catches for 616 yards, coming second only to Amon-Ra St. Brown on the team. His pivotal 43-yard reception from Jared Goff led to a go-ahead touchdown against Green Bay in week 18, demonstrating his value in high-pressure situations.
After the 2022 season, he was named to the Associated Press second-team All-Pro squad – Detroit’s only player to earn this accolade.
“Leaf is our Iron Man,” comments Dan Campbell, speaking on the value Raymond brings to the Lions, especially with Jameson Williams being sidelined for the first six games. Campbell adds, ” He can play all of the positions. He can play the X…the slot…the Z. He is smart…tough…heads-y…a go-getter…resilient. (Kalif) is a huge asset for us. Thank God we have him. So, he will be big for us while Jamo is out.”
Kalif Raymond: By the Numbers
- 47 receptions for a career-high 616 yards (13.1 avg.) in the 2022 season with 17 appearances and seven starts. He also recorded a career-high 264 punt return yards, the most a Lions player has achieved since Jamal Agnew in 2017 (447).
- 100 all-purpose yards in Week 15 at the New York Jets, marking the first punt return touchdown of his career and Detroit’s first since the 2020 season.
- More than 200 punt return yards for the second consecutive season in 2022, a feat last achieved by Jeremy Ross from 2013-14.
From his college years at Holy Cross to his professional career with the Lions, Kalif Raymond continues to prove his worth and earn his role. Everybody indeed loves Raymond – the resilient pro who never stops working.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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Photo Credit: © Vincent Carchietta- USA TODAY Sports