Iâ€™ll admit it, I laughed this week when there were reports out of Lions training camp that Jon Kitna was annoyed with linebacker Buster Davisâ€™ exuberant love of hitting. Initially, I wrote this off as just another stupid camp story cooked up for media excitement.
However, later on it dawned on me that what both Kitna and Davis showed was something that many Lions players have visibly lacked for a long time: feistiness with a love for the game and your teammates. Those ingredients often propel teams to victory more than talent itself. Nobody questions Kitnaâ€™s leadership, especially when he plays hurt and is always there to take the blame in the locker room after the game. Yet, what Kitna did by showing his displeasure and chirping at his defensive mate was more Brett Favre than anything else. He was standing up for his offense, showing that he appreciates and cares for them when in the past he may have let things go. That proves he has his head in the game for 2008, and wants to make it the best season possible.
Buster Davis on the other hand, is showing us how passionate, tough and committed the defense should be this year. His will to keep playing and hitting is truly part of the Marinelli "pound the rock" blue print for success. His work ethic in camp should be praised, because defense's all around the NFC North have been playing on Sundays how Davis did in practice this week; tenacious with a take no prisoners attitude. Davis has been impressive in the brief time that he has been with the Lions and fans should be even more impressed with his progression now. There is no doubt that the rest of the defensive unit was invigorated by his passion in practice, and cannot wait to take their aggressions out on opposing offenses this year.
Stories of camp fights always seem to surface this time of year, as teams get sick of lining up against themselves. Fans and the media always like to make a soap opera out of these events, believing that these incidents are unhealthy for the team and cause players to dislike one another. This could not be further from the truth. A controlled rage for your teammate during the dog days of summer only proves how ready you are for the season to begin, and how committed you are to winning. That is a welcome sight in Allen Park. Quite frankly, the Lions training camps have been too friendly for many years. Itâ€™s good to see Jeff Backus and Dewayne White not getting along for a change. Itâ€™s nice to hear that the linebackers are addicted to hitting in practice, but equally as pleasing to hear that the field general stands up for his receivers.
Letâ€™s face it; talk has become cheap when you are a Detroit Lion. Jon Kitna fooled around last year and predicted 10 wins. As the season progressed, other players spoke too candidly about reaching the playoffs and proving the fans and pundits wrong about the team. This year, it appears as if Marinelliâ€™s message is finally starting to sink in: show it on the field, with the passion and fire to compete every snap, even in practice.
The Lions have taken notice in camp, and are beginning to show us.