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Antwaan Randle El: 'You've Got to Gain the Trust of the Players'

Antwaan Randle El shares what the one common factor was on the two Super Bowl teams he was part of.

You need to gain the trust of your players as a head coach in the NFL. 

And you also need to as an NFL assistant coach. Just ask new Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El. 

Randle El won a Super Bowl as a player with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005, and also did so as an offensive assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a season ago. 

And, according to Randle El, the one common factor between the two Super Bowl-winning teams was that they had the trust of their players. 

"First of all, you've got to gain the trust of the players. That's always a big deal," Randle El said during a video conference with members of the media Wednesday. "At the end of the day, that's what it comes down to. Those guys will run through a brick wall for you, if they feel like they trust you. If you're on the same page as them, have that open-door policy and you're honest with them, that's what players want." 

Randle El then spoke on the importance of that to him during his nine seasons in the league.  

"(When) I was a player, I didn't want the nonsense to come to me. I wanted to be told straight up what's what, and you build from there," Randle El commented. "I think you start with building relationships, as a coach, with your players, and then, you just grow from there." 

Randle El has already built up a relationship with new Detroit wideout Breshad Perriman, stemming from the time they spent together in Tampa Bay in 2019. Perriman subsequently comes into the Motor City with previous knowledge of the way that Randle El likes to coach his wide receivers. 

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Randle El views that as a built-in "advantage" for himself, while joining a new organization that will feature a receivers room that is starkly different from last season. 

"Bringing in a guy like Breshad Perriman, who I had in Tampa in 2019, that helps out, because obviously, he knows how I teach," Randle El said. 

Perriman had a career year with the Buccaneers in 2019. Playing in 14 games while starting in just four of them, he amassed career-high marks in receptions (36), reception yards (645) and touchdowns (six). 

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Randle El spoke Wednesday about what allowed Perriman to succeed in Tampa Bay. 

"I think he (Perriman) just kept showing up, and when I say show up, I mean, when it was time to make a play," Randle El told reporters. "At that time, he was our third wide receiver, behind Chris (Godwin) and Mike (Evans) in Tampa. And he just kept showing up, and we just tried to keep finding ways to get him the ball because he just kept showing up. Wide open here, wide open there. And obviously, later in the season, those two guys went down, and he just kept playing well. So, really, it's just about figuring out ways to get him the ball." 

Perriman has been known for his top-end speed throughout his five seasons in the league, and Randle El believes it's one of the 2015 first-round pick's biggest on-field intangibles. 

"One of the biggest attributes is his speed and then, his speed and height together. Him being able to go up and get the ball and keep the defender on one side and catch the ball on the other side," Randle El expressed. "So, he's proven to do that down the field. So, with that vertical threat, with his speed, it certainly helps for him to run those underneath routes, and he did a lot of that stuff in Tampa and even last year (with the N.Y. Jets), for that matter." 

Perriman is coming off a campaign in which he suited up for 12 games and recorded 30 receptions for 505 yards and three touchdowns. 

Detroit's receivers room this upcoming season is expected to prominently feature Perriman, along with fellow free-agent acquisition Tyrell Williams, second-year pro Quintez Cephus and 2021 fourth-round draft pick Amon-Ra St. Brown.

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