He wasn't even supposed to be here.
Lions' wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim was not on the minds of most fans the last free agency period. He was expected by most to go to Kansas City, to be reunited with Dick Vermeil, his former coach with the Rams. Together, they would build a team that mirrored the Rams; speed and finesse.
However, GM Matt Millen and Co. landed the marquee wide receiver in the team's pursuit for improved speed. Hakim was expected to give the Lions another deep threat, along with Germane Crowell and Bill Schroeder. Giving the team three deep threats would give them a potentially deadly receiving corp.
But, as usual, things did not work as planned for the Detroit Lions.
Crowell had off-season surgery to repair damage to both knees, and with that he was forced onto the Physically Unable to Perform list. The Lions former second round draft pick not start the season and won't be back until week 7 at the earliest. Schroeder, meanwhile, was brought over from the Packers in another speed oriented move, but was injured in the second game. He returned against New Orleans last week, but is injured again. Hakim now seems to be the go-to guy for blooming rookie quarterback Joey Harrington. And he is proving that he is worthy of the status.
A slot receiver with St. Louis, Hakim is now on pace for a 1,000 yard season. That would be career highs for the San Diego State alum. He is already the fastest player on the team, and he proved that this season. Against Miami, he nearly broke the 100 yard plane, and was the lone Lions' bright spot in the entire contest.
Although he was a non-factor against Carolina the next week, he came up big against Green Bay. On a trick return play, rookie wide reciever Eddie Drummond went to return a punt, before reversing the ball to Hakim, who took it to the house for six unattested points. Against New Orleans, he had only 3 catches, but it translated to 98 yards, because of his deep play ability. The stats were pretty enough for most, he nearly broke the 100 yard mark again. But what most didn't see is the trench work by Az.
Most remember the play that pretty much sealed the 26-21 win over the Saints -- a 38 yard run by James Stewart, who collected a key first down, thus ending New Orleans' hopes for a comeback. But what was none other than Az Hakim who served as a decoy on the play, as Joey Harrington faked the reverse. The New Orleans defense bit hard on that play, leaving Stewart plenty of room to work with.
The reason for this is because Az Hakim is such a threat, whether it be on a reverse, a punt return, a kick return, or a deep throw. He can take any of those four things -- and score with them. Speed kills, and he is living proof. He was a huge factor in the game against New Orleans, and the Lions won. Get him the ball -- and he can hurt you. He proved his worth last week.
He didn't even touch the ball on the determining play, and he still came through.