After going 9-8 and nearly missing the playoffs in 2022, Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is embracing the "hype" surrounding the team heading toward the start of the 2023 season.
"My rookie year, we went 3-13-1, [Lions fans] were still there for us," St. Brown told Gilberto Manzano of Sports Illustrated. "And now the hype is crazy. When I go back for OTAs and whatnot, you go to the grocery store, you go to the restaurant, whatever you're doing that day. If a fan sees you, they're super excited.
"They have big expectations, but I feel like no matter what, they're always going to be there for us. That's something, as a player, I really appreciate, because there's definitely those bandwagon fans that you see with the big teams that win a lot."
St. Brown has been a part of a three-win season and recently a 9-8 squad this past year. Now, heading into the 2023 campaign with expectations, the third-year wide receiver is striving to make a postseason run after a career year in which he set new highs with 106 receptions, 1,161 receiving yards and six touchdowns and earned his first Pro Bowl nod.
The last time Detroit made a playoff appearance was in the 2016 season when it had Matthew Stafford under center. The team's most recent playoff victory was in the 1991 season with a win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions haven't won the NFC North since 1993. Detroit is entering perhaps its best chance to make a playoff appearance with Aaron Rodgers leaving division rival Green Bay for the Big Apple.
During the offseason, the Lions have had some key players depart in free agency, including Jamaal Williams, who led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 2022, signing with New Orleans, and wide receiver DJ Chark heading over to Carolina. Detroit also moved on from its young talent by trading Jeff Okudah to Atlanta and shipping D’Andre Swift to Philadelphia. However, the team did add experienced veterans with playoff experience, signing former Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and bringing back wide receiver Marvin Jones to Detroit.
With new pieces added to the puzzle, St. Brown will look to develop chemistry with his new teammates when the Lions kick off training camp on July 22 for the veterans.