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How Lions RB Jahmyr Gibbs can get to the ‘next level’ as a receiver – The Voice

Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs (26) during the 2024 Uniform Media Day in New Hudson, MI on March 6, 2024. (Detroit Lions)

The Detroit Lions want to unlock Jahmyr Gibbs’ elite potential.

The 2023 first-round pick was a big part of the offense as a rookie, rushing for just under 1,000 yards and emerging as a major threat every time he touched the ball.

Ahead of the 2024 campaign, Lions running backs coach Scottie Montgomery outlined where the Alabama product can continue to improve. The Lions viewed Gibbs as an offensive weapon during the Draft process last year and hope to use him more in the passing game in 2024.

Gibbs had 52 catches last year, but many of the routes he ran were checkdowns out of the backfield. Montgomery explained the steps ahead for the young running back as he continues to develop in that area. According to Pro Football Focus, his average target depth was zero yards.

“What we need from him now from a passing game standpoint is to get to that next level,” Montgomery said. “I think there’s definitely a difference between running out of the backfield and being a very, very efficient checkdown runner versus being a great route runner. A man who can walk all kinds of optional routes. We’ve seen him do those things, but now you can take the gamble and do some more on the field, some intermediate stuff. Can we continue to grow it there? And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Despite starting his career on such a strong note, Gibbs is still just 22 years old and in his second year. As a result, the Lions can afford to be patient with his development.

For example, the running back got off to a slow start in his rookie year. However, he flipped the switch in Week 7 against Baltimore and got a breakout game the following week. Montgomery noted that it can be harder to criticize him as a young player because of how well he has performed.

“When he has his helmet on, it’s hard not to see him as an older player,” Montgomery explained. “But as soon as he takes off his helmet, you know you are dealing with a young person and a young player. But that was kind of the point where I thought, boom, he’s a little bit better than he was.

Gibbs will continue to have high expectations in his second season. If he continues to grow and stay healthy for a full season, he has the potential to earn major accolades.

While Montgomery wouldn’t go so far as to label him an MVP candidate, he knows the young player has a lot of potential and a high ceiling.

“Man, that’s hard even when you think about the people who have worn that jacket in this league,” Montgomery said. “I haven’t thought about it. I have seen growth in a young player, I know he is super talented. I also know there are things he can get better at. And the flip side of it: sometimes people are looking for all positive or all negative. What I’m trying to do is make him better as a person and as a player. If he blossoms into what you say in that process, it would be great to come along.”

This article was produced by the Sports Illustrated/All Lions staff. For more information, visit si.com/nfl/lions

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