Rookies will Practice as Lions for the first time in this Weekend's Rookie Mini-Camp

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Rookies will Practice as Lions for the first time in this Weekend's Rookie Mini-Camp
By Chrissie Zavicar
Detroitlions.com
May 3, 2006
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Less than a week ago, the Detroit Lions rookies were anxiously waiting for the NFL Draft with high anticipation.
What team would they end up with? When would they be drafted? Would they be drafted at all?
Now, days after the conclusion of the big event, these rookies are anxious for a different reason … they have their first mini-camp this weekend.
Making the move from a college team to a professional team is a big step. There are only 32 teams in the NFL, consisting of the best of the best football players – some having been hand-picked out of college and some diligently working their way to the top.
For these rookies, however, all of a sudden they will go from being in a position where they may have been overwhelmingly dominant in college to matching up with players who have the same level of talent as they do.
What this weekend will do is begin the process of preparing these rookies to take that step up from college into the NFL so they will continue to thrive as talented football players while competing as a professional.
“Why do you have a rookie mini-camp?” said Head Coach Rod Marinelli. “First of all you want to get as many men here that create a team atmosphere so the guys we drafted and our free agents have a great opportunity to get a full team setting of practice.”
Less than a week after they were drafted, LB Ernie Sims, S Daniel Bullocks, RB Brian Calhoun, T Jonathan Scott, CB Dee McCann, G Fred Matua and LB Anthony Cannon will step through the doors of the Lions practice and training facility as rookies and teammates.
They will begin a full schedule from the time they arrive in Allen Park and will have little down time. They will be at the team’s practice facility for the majority of the weekend, going through both on-the-field work and off-the-field meetings.
While some might assume that all a mini-camp consists of is on-the-field drills, these players will have plenty to do that doesn’t directly involve a football. Aside from receiving physicals and their equipment, these players will receive their playbooks, meet with their coaches and position groups, and spend time in the weight room.
“It’s important when you have a rookie mini-camp that they’re able to come in with their coaches and have individual time – special time,” said Marinelli. “When you have all the veterans here, they have a tendency not to ask questions. They sit in the back – they don’t want to ask questions.
“When you get a group like this in, you’re able to slow things down for the coaches. You’re really able start to develop a relationship with the players a little bit more, answer all the questions because they’ll ask you questions. They’ll feel pretty good about themselves talking.”
Among everything these rookies will have to go through, the football side of things will be the primary focus over the course of the weekend. On top of meeting with their position groups, the rookies will go through numerous walk-throughs and practices to begin the process of getting them up to speed so they will be more caught up when practicing with the team’s veteran players.
“When we go to our OTA days, we want to believe our rookies after this camp will be caught up a little bit,” said Marinelli. “Feel the pace, the drill work, the fundamentals, all those things. Hopefully we give them a better springboard going to compete.”
The unique aspect of this offseason for the Lions, however, is that all of the players are being introduced to a new coaching staff – veterans and rookies alike. Marinelli and his staff had the opportunity to see what the veterans were made of in a voluntary mini-camp in mid-April.
In addition to the Lions seven drafted rookies, also in attendance will be the Lions rookie free agent signees who will be announced later this week, selected first-year veterans and invited try-out players.
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