Allen Park – If you thought Malcolm Rodriguez’s momentum could be slowed in the regular season, you’d be wrong. Not only was the sixth-round draft pick Detroit’s highest-ranked defenseman in Week 1, according to Pro Football Focus, but the coaching staff praised the rookie linebacker for having no mental errors in the game. one of the most difficult positions to accomplish this feat.
On top of all that, Rodriguez has gone viral for Eagles veteran center Jason Kelce, a four-time First-Team All-Pro selection.
Kelce took the moment in stride, chatting with his brother, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, during a podcast this week.
“That was good. I thought I had it, I drove him into the end zone, and just at the last second – Huzzah! – he threw a judo hip kick at me. I didn’t. didn’t see it coming,” Jason Kelce said. “This kid has a really bright future, he was a star on ‘Hard Knocks’, he looks like he’s got a great mentality. And this isn’t the first time I’ve gone viral for getting a kick, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.”
Rodriguez position coach Kelvin Sheppard noted that he and Kelce entered the league the same year and had a few battles, particularly when Sheppard was playing for NFC East rival New York Giants.
“That’s what I said to Malcolm, ‘Me and Kelce came into the league together, do you realize that? He had the same battles with your coach,'” Sheppard said. “So it’s kind of unique, but Kelce, man, he handled it like a pro. You call a spade a spade. Malcolm was getting his ass kicked until the very end, but at the very end he used that wrestling past that he did and kind of got him there. That’s the game, man. These guys are gonna get it, he’s gonna get them.
Reject espionage defense value
In last week’s season opener, the Eagles beat the Lions on the ground, rushing for 216 yards and four touchdowns on 39 carries. Still, Sheppard remains confident in his group’s ability to get the job done, attributing the Eagles’ success to quarterback Jalen Hurts’ unique scrambling ability.
“The quarterback was representing 90 of those (yards), and that’s what’s going to happen when you play a mobile quarterback like that,” Sheppard said. “Now is that okay? No, but it’s the reality. We’re in cover with our backs turned. Now the D-line has to win. (Defensive line) Coach (Todd) Wash will tell you that, but these types of things are going to happen.
“For me it’s about winning. I’m not caught up in statistics. But facts are facts. Who lined up and directed the ball between the tackles on us? Facts are facts, guys. I going to keep it real, and i’m going to tell you the truth.
When asked why the Lions didn’t deploy the common defensive tactic of having a Hurts spy linebacker in the contest, Sheppard dismissed it as bad football strategy.
“You show me the tape where the spy stuff works,” Sheppard said. “What you’re doing is you’re wasting a defender when you’re operating like this and playing preemptive defense in a sense. Show me where a spy tackled Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray in open space . So to each his own, whatever you believe in, but I’ve seen that burnt down at the college level and at the NFL level.”
This week, the Lions will face a less mobile quarterback in Carson Wentz, but Washington running back Antonio Gibson presents an opportunity to validate Sheppard’s confidence in his group.
“The offense goes right through him,” Sheppard said. “This kid is a legit player. Now I don’t know why he’s not being promoted to the national spotlight, but this Gibson, this (No) 24, he’s a real dude, dude. They’re doing good work with the patterns to marry what he does well he is a great zone runner thats the pattern they do they will try to stretch you and if he can get his foot in the ground and straightening up is a problem. So it starts there with stopping the race.”
In his third season with Washington, Logan Thomas established himself as a quality tight end in the NFL. It’s easy to forget that he entered the league as a quarterback and was converted to a Detroit Lions practice squad in 2016.
Thomas returned to Detroit in 2019, catching 16 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown before moving to Washington, where he erased career highs with 72 catches for 670 yards and six scores in his first year with the franchise.
“He’s amazing,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “Super smart, very good athlete, explosive. Look, he doesn’t run like he used to, but he still has the range of the big surfaces. He knows how to use his body. He can kick in there. He’s a pretty good blocker, and he does all these different parts and roles because he’s smart.”
Prior to Detroit, Thomas spent time with the Miami Dolphins while trying to become a quarterback. His time there overlapped with Campbell, who said the team then tackled a pass at the tight end, but Thomas wasn’t ready to hear it.
“We did, but he wasn’t really keen on making that change at that time,” Campbell said. “But, yeah, he did. So yeah, I was on that one a long time ago. He didn’t have it.”
During his 14-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, four-time Pro Bowl catcher Hines Ward established himself as one of the game’s fiercest tacklers at his position. As Ward’s teammate for three seasons, Lions running backs coach Duce Staley got to witness the receiver’s rare physique firsthand.
“Hines was one of those guys who was looking for you,” Staley said. “You must have had your head on a swivel when Hines was there. He’ll hit you, make you spit on you, maybe your nose will bleed and he’ll laugh. Then he’d run towards the caucus. So we’ll have a lot of fun. “
More than a decade later, Staley sees the same fire in Lions second-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
“Saint is kind of the same, you know?” said Staley. “Saint chases safeties, chases block guys, moves his feet and is aggressive. That’s what you expect from a wide receiver.”