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DJ Reader Expects to Return By Start of 2024 Season

DJ Reader is ready to chase a Lombardi Trophy in Detroit.

DJ Reader has felt the sting of losing in the Super Bowl

After signing his new free agent contract, the veteran defensive lineman is ready to work towards removing the sour taste in his mouth from being close to a Lombardi Trophy with the Cincinnati Bengals and coming up short. 

Following a meeting with head coach Dan Campbell, the talented defender spoke to local reporters and expressed that his rehabilitation from a torn quad muscle is ahead of schedule compared to the last time he tore the other quad muscle several years ago. 

"I expect to be out there the beginning of the season. I expect to be ready," Reader expressed. "I don't want to put like days or things like that on myself, but I expect to be out there. I don't know what everybody else's expectation is. But, I hold myself to a high standard as a person and as a player. I knew that I'm going to get in there and grind every single day. And where that grind ends, I can deal with that."

Having gone through the process before conditioned his body to prepare for the grind of rehabbing a significant injury

"Rehab is always like a tough thing. But I've been able to be there and just grind on it every single day. It's moving really well. It's a little bit ahead than what the other one was," said Reader. "I think my body is knowing what's going on this time. It makes it a lot easier for me. And then just where my mindset is."

His last recovery process was during the global pandemic, which made the challenges that much more stressful. 

Surrounded by friends and family has allowed this process to go much differently for the veteran defensive lineman

Mentoring Brodric Martin

Detroit's young defensive lineman Brodric Martin did not see the football field much his rookie season. 

Coaches indicated he was a developmental player that needed to improve his fundamentals before he could be trusted with more playing time. 

Having a player of Reader's caliber can only aid the second-year player, as he expressed a willingness to mentor Martin

"He's a young pup. 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," said Reader. "Talk to him about ball, how to play this position, especially at nose guard position. This is 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."

Pushing teammates to reach their potential can only aid the Lions, who are seeking to take another step forward in 2024. 

"Hopefully I can help him a lot. And I'm being in his ear about it, whether you want to hear it or not, I'm going to be in his ear just trying to help him, push him to be better. You want your team to be in a great spot. So, I want him to be the best he can, and hopefully he pushes me to be the best I can, and we can all elevate this whole group."

Playing alongside Alim McNeill 

One of the most exciting aspects for supporters of bringing the former Bengals defender to Motown is witnessing him play alongside Alim McNeill, who has emerged as one of the NFL's top nose tackles. 

"I love guys from Carolina. I feel like we got the best athletes in the country," said Reader. "You can quote that one. We've got the best athletes in the country. I'm excited to be paired with him. I 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, be able to pick his brain about what he likes about the position."