In his final three years in Pittsburgh, Jesse James averaged 37 catches for 378 yards and three touchdowns. In his first season in Detroit, James made 16 receptions for 142 yards and no touchdowns.
The Steelers went to the postseason in three of James’ four seasons in Pittsburgh. The Lions were 3-12-1 last season.
James calls 2019 a “brutal” season.
“Toughest year I had as a pro, for sure,” James said Thursday, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “A lot of learning. It was just, worked as hard as you could in the middle of the year and nothing really ended up working out for me personally, but that’s just part of the job and didn’t change the way I approached the work week. So I learned a lot, got better and feel like I’ve improved a lot since then.”
The Lions signed James to a four-year, $28.5 million deal to become their top tight end. A month later, they used the eighth overall choice on tight end T.J. Hockenson.
James never complained — publicly or privately — about his role, but he said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called him during the offseason to discuss it.
“I feel really good about where we’re at,” James said. “Bevell and me had a couple conversations in the offseason. Constructive. We went back and forth and he had a lot of good things to say, and I trust moving forward that we’ll have an opportunity to make some plays. Hopefully, over time throughout the season we’ll see that.”