Behind closed doorways at Lions coaching camp, in a gathering of coaches and assistants, Duce Staley made his mission for his budding star working again abundantly clear.
“I need (D’Andre) Swift to believe he’s the best every time he steps on the f—king field,” Staley says in Tuesday’s second episode of “Hard Knocks,” which fits behind the scenes with the Lions at coaching camp. “I need to know when he’s one-on-one — no matter if he’s running a route or has the ball in his hands — no one can guard him or tackle him. … He’s got it. It’s in there. (That) boy’s special. And every day we get out there in between those lines, he’s gotta believe that. I’m gonna try my hardest to get that sh-t out of him. Ain’t no try — I’m a f—king get it out of him.”
Swift is Detroit’s most feared offensive ability participant. Entering his third season within the NFL, Staley would love nothing greater than for Swift to take the subsequent step in his improvement and turn out to be a bona-fide star within the league. If it involves fruition, the Lions as a complete can be higher for it. And Staley is aware of it.
Staley has by no means been shy about pushing Swift. He’s always in his face at follow. He challenges him in every drill, and needs the opposite backs to offer him the whole lot they’ve acquired. That’s the usual Staley has set. But it’s all within the effort to get the most effective out of Swift, as a result of Staley is aware of what he has in his younger working again.
— NFL (@NFL) August 17, 2022
During a working backs assembly, Staley pulls up one in all Swift’s exterior runs from follow, wherein he’s tackled by security DeShon Elliott within the purple zone. Staley tries to elucidate to Swift that he may’ve gotten a couple of extra yards, or even perhaps scored, by merely throwing a stiff arm. Swift made it too simple for a protection that already fears him. He must be hungry for each yard. It’s the little issues.
That’s how this workers has been teaching Swift up. Staley doesn’t need any meat left on the bones. And Swift shouldn’t, both.
During the preseason opener versus the Falcons, we see this proceed. Staley will get on Swift for bouncing a run exterior as an alternative of slicing inside the place the outlet was. The teaching workers instantly subs out Swift for a dialog, inserting backup Jamaal Williams. On the sideline, Staley tells Swift he would’ve scored had he adopted the script. They assessment the play collectively and Swift seems to understand his mistake. He accepts the teaching, with little argument.
His subsequent play? An inside run, good for a acquire of seven yards.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Staley yells from the sideline.
This is a part of the method with Swift. He has all of the expertise he must turn out to be the participant Staley believes he could be. A robust offensive line. A workers that wishes him to be nice and a transparent alternative because the lead again.
If all of it comes collectively this yr, we’ll know why.
More from “Hard Knocks,” episode two:
Meet the St. Browns
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit’s second-year broad receiver, broke franchise information for receiving yards and receptions by a rookie. He was one of many prime broad receivers within the league throughout the last 5 video games of the 2021 season, etching his title as a constructing block on this younger Lions workforce. And but, he nonetheless hasn’t forgotten those that handed on him popping out of USC.
“For me,” St. Brown says, “I would say the draft experience was shitty.”
During a sit-down interview, St. Brown boasts about with the ability to title all 16 receivers — and faculties they attended — who had been drafted forward of him. Then, he proceeds to do it, proper then and there, from reminiscence. Their loss was Detroit’s acquire, because the Lions scooped him up within the fourth spherical.
This is an efficient snapshot of St. Brown. He takes these perceived slights and makes use of them to gas his drive. There’s a chip on his shoulder that weighs greater than his father — John Brown, a two-time Mr. Universe winner — can most likely carry.
That household dynamic was a key theme on this episode. We acquired to see a exercise led by John Brown himself. He mentioned the work ethic he instilled in his kids at a younger age, and the way it helped them star in soccer.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) August 17, 2022
Growing up enjoying in a youth league, St. Brown and his father got here throughout a large receiver, across the similar age as Amon-Ra, who had nice arms. John Brown requested the receiver’s father what strategies they used to excellent these arms. After follow, the receiver would catch 200 passes on the Jugs machine. John Brown and his son determined to do the identical — besides St. Brown caught 202, only for good measure. To today, you’ll be able to see him on the market, often shirtless, catching all 202 after follow.
Later within the episode, we see John Brown watching within the stands because the Lions tackle the Falcons within the preseason opener. It was a very good time to have a digicam crew following him round, contemplating his son had a reasonably good day in restricted motion. St. Brown caught two passes for 29 yards, serving to to arrange a Swift landing run on the beginning offense’s lone drive collectively.
A stable efficiency, from a second-year participant who needs extra.
“That chip on my shoulder that I still have comes from that day,” St. Brown says.
That a lot is evident.
All aboard the Rodrigo hype prepare
After exhibiting off Malcolm Rodriguez’s dance strikes last week, the “Hard Knocks” crew determined it was time to indicate Rodriguez’s on-field expertise. Detroit’s 2022 sixth-round decide, nicknamed “Rodrigo,” has been the discuss of the workforce. He’s a tough hitter with a wrestling background. His key-and-diagnose abilities are spectacular for his age. Tuesday, we noticed the teaching workers raving about him behind closed doorways. It backed up the whole lot we’ve seen after which some.
At one level, the cameras went contained in the linebacker assembly room. There, linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard reviewed follow movie along with his gamers. In the assembly, Sheppard singled out Rodriguez — exhibiting his rookie some well-deserved love, whereas additionally utilizing the time to ship a message to the remainder of his linebackers.
“Watch Rodriguez. Watch Rodriguez,” Sheppard says to his room. “I’m f—king sick of saying this about a rookie. What do y’all want me to do? Put him out there first? ‘Cause that’s what’s about to happen. This ain’t nothing against you, Rodriguez. Matter of fact — you’re f—king playing your ass off, dude. But it’s a rookie, who I’m doing everything I can not to put out here first. I’m sick of f—king saying it.”
The Lions linebacker room continues to be very a lot a piece in progress. Alex Anzalone has one of many beginning jobs locked up, however he’s on a one-year deal. Free-agent addition Chris Board is studying the protection, competing for a beginning job. Derrick Barnes was a fourth-round draft decide in 2021 who has but to show the nook.
Playing time is up for grabs. Long-term spots haven’t been safe. And Rodriguez, regardless of his draft place, may have each alternative to grab this job in due time.
Perhaps earlier than we predict.
“There ain’t much you can’t do on the field,” Sheppard tells Rodriguez throughout the episode. “I’m telling you right now, this year can be whatever you want it to be. Everything’s open for you right now. You got me? You just gotta go take it and do it.”
Key moments from the preseason opener
As final week’s episode famous, Campbell’s workers is comprised of many former gamers who’ve seen all of it. Because of that, they place a excessive emphasis on these preseason video games, hoping to see their guys rise to the event below the lights to find out who they will depend on when the season begins.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” Campbell says, high-fiving his line. “F—cking hell of a drive. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s how you f—cking go, man.”
The teaching workers additionally had to be ok with Aidan Hutchinson’s preseason debut. The No. 2 decide chased down Marcus Mariota and knocked him out of bounds on his first play, and adopted that up by tossing Jake Matthews to the aspect for a sort out for loss on his second play. The “Hard Knocks” crew had eyes on Hutchinson’s household, sitting collectively to look at the rookie’s first style of sport motion. He gave them one thing to cheer about.
The No. 2 decide making his presence recognized early 😤 @aidanhutch97
— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2022
But, after all, the sport didn’t finish the best way Campbell and his workers needed.
Late within the fourth quarter, with David Blough in at quarterback, the Lions had been attempting to carry on to their lead and go dwelling with a win. Blough was highlighted earlier within the episode. His spouse, Melissa Gonzalez, is an Olympic hurdler who competed in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, representing Colombia. As athletes, Blough and Gonzalez can relate to the highs and lows of sport. The episode confirmed a video of Blough cheering on Gonzalez throughout her Olympic run final summer time, and in flip, Gonzalez cheering on Blough on the Lions’ preseason opener.
Unfortunately for Blough, a late-game fumble proved pricey, paving the best way for a Falcons comeback and a Lions loss.
It’s simply the preseason, positive, however Campbell noticed firsthand in Year 1 how errors may result in maddening losses amid a 3-13-1 season.
“Look, that’s frustrating,” Campbell says. “It’s frustrating because you want to win that game. We should’ve won that game, but we didn’t earn it. You guys know that. We didn’t earn it. …You’re gonna see, this is this league, man. When things don’t go right, it’s probably your own fault. It’s probably our own fault, right? …That’s the little stuff in this league that will bite you in the ass. It is and it always will be.”
This is what Campbell’s hoping to work out of his workforce, heading into his second season. The excellent news: He has a couple of extra weeks to take action.
(Photo: Raj Mehta / USA Today)