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All Lions: D.J. Reader 'Super Excited' To Be Alim McNeill's Teammate

D.J. Reader is looking forward to playing alongside Alim McNeill.
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The Detroit Lions bolstered the interior of their defensive line in a big way Thursday. They acquired former Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman D.J. Reader, inking the 335-pound nose tackle to a two-year deal worth up to $27.25 million. 

The acquisition of Reader stands to significantly benefit fellow defensive tackle Alim McNeill. He provides McNeill with a strong run-stuffing counterpart along the interior of the defensive line. 

Per Pro Football Focus, McNeill was the eighth-best defensive tackle against the run a season ago, while Reader was the 10th.

Reader, a 2016 fifth-round pick of the Houston Texans, told the Detroit Free Press he's looking forward to joining forces with McNeill. 

“I’m super excited,” Reader said of the opportunity to be McNeill's running mate. “He’s a young player who has a lot, a lot of talent. … I’m excited to pair with him, see the things that he does well. I watch him all the time on film. So, I’m excited to just get around him and just be around and be able to pick his brain about what he likes about the position.”

Reader, who earned a PFF overall grade of 82.2 in 2023, spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Texans before joining the Bengals in 2020. In four seasons and 44 total games with Cincinnati, he racked up 68 total tackles, including seven for loss, 20 quarterback hits, three sacks and three fumble recoveries.  

Now 29 years old, he joins the Lions as a savvy veteran, with eight years of NFL experience under his belt. He's looking forward to passing along all the knowledge he's garnered to second-year defensive tackle Brodric Martin, a third-round pick of the Lions in 2023.  

“He’s a young pup," Reader said of Martin. "He’s running around, trying to figure things out. So, I can’t wait to get my hands on him and just talk to him, talk to him about ball, how to play this position, especially that nose guard position. It’s a unique position, and there’s a right way to do it and there’s a wrong way to do it. And, there’s just things you can learn that’ll help you out. Especially I think you can be asked to take double teams on all the time. So hopefully, I can help him a lot."

Here are other storylines surrounding the Detroit Lions on March 17.

  • Woodward Sports examined how much better off the Lions are after their free-agent signings this past week.  
  • Locked On Lions took a look at whether wide receiver Josh Reynolds will be returning to Detroit in 2024.   
  • Lions Wire mocked the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, selecting West Virginia offensive lineman Zach Frazier for Brad Holmes & Co.