Kalif Raymond has typically been one of the last players off the practice field here at training camp in Allen Park.
The veteran is also one of the busier players on the roster during practice. He’s been playing wide receiver with the first-team offense, and he also takes part in most special teams periods as a return man.
Even so, Raymond always takes the extra time after practice to run routes and spend time on the jugs machine.
Raymond, who came over to Detroit in free agency this offseason from Tennessee, was mainly used as a return man for the Titans. Now he’s getting an opportunity to play a bigger role on offense in Detroit.
“That’s what this game is about,” Raymond said after practice Tuesday. “Getting an opportunity and taking advantage of it. Honestly, every day I’m out here just grinding, whether it’s inside, outside, this or that, whatever they need me to do.”
There’s a clear top four that’s emerged at receiver for the Lions through the first two weeks of camp – Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Raymond and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown. Raymond has played a lot in the slot, but with Perriman currently dealing with a hip injury, he’s played more and more outside, and continues to make plays there as well.
“Lif’s (Raymond) a stud,” head coach Dan Campbell said before Tuesday’s practice. “He embodies everything we’re about. Anybody that has flexibility, versatility, position flex, smart, on top of the ability that he has, it helps significantly.
“It helps (offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn) A-Lynn call the game. It helps us with matchups. He’s able to do a number of things. We put him at Z yesterday. He’s been playing the F. He could be a trinket guy for us, do some different things maybe out of the backfield. But he’s also a returner.”
Raymond said he worked his tail off this offseason to show he can be a playmaker at receiver and not just a return specialist.
“Every day he’s nonstop,” Campbell said. “You look up there and he’s blocking guys in the run game, throwing his body around. He’s competitive as hell. I’m glad we got him. Glad we got him. It was a great pickup by (general manager) Brad (Holmes).”
In 35 career games with Denver, both New York teams and Tennessee, Raymond has caught just 19 passes for 369 yards (19.4 average) with a lone touchdown. In Detroit, he’s going to get the opportunity to not only return punts and kicks, but also play a significant role in Detroit’s revamped receiver room.
Raymond has embraced the gritty mentality Campbell wants to build this roster around, and says he’s trying to stay in the present moment to show there’s much more to his game than people think.
“I love that that’s one of our focal points,” Raymond said of Campbell’s gritty mentality. “Grit is like one more rep. Everything that you do, whether you’re tired and have nothing left, give one more. You have to bench press, give one more. Conditioning, and you’re about to drop, give one more.
“Because eventually your mental fortitude is going to change. That way when you’re out there and it’s a two-minute drive and you’re tired and the guy in front of you is tired, you’ve got one more rep.”
Raymond is going to continue to grind and find the best parts of his game. It’s why he stays late after practice and puts in the work.