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Dan Campbell Shares Added Benefit of Healthy Ifeatu Melifonwu

Lions' coaching staff has seen growth from Ifeatu Melifonwu.

The Detroit Lions view third-year defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu's best fit to be at the safety position. 

The young defensive back has missed quality practice time and NFL game action dealing with ankle, hamstring and quadricep injuries his first two years in the league. 

Speaking before practice on the final day of minicamp, Lions head coach Dan Campbell expressed that he has seen growth on the field from the 24-year-old safety. 

“Yeah, I would say you see growth," said Campbell. "To your point, he’s relatively new to the position. And, you’re right, the injuries hurt him. Not being able to get the reps, the repetitions, added time on task. So, this is one of the few times that we’ve had him for a significant amount of time, consistently, consecutively. So, that in itself is paying dividends right now. We see growth, he's coming along. And look, here’s the thing: Iffy’s a pretty smart player, he really is. Like, he gets it."

Melifonwu had a productive minicamp, regularly showcasing his ability to be in position to break up plays and contributing to the new swagger of the secondary. 

"I'm way more comfortable than last year. Last year, everything was new. It was just, I had never played safety before, so it was just a big transition," Melifonwu told reporters at minicamp. "The rotations and fitting in the gaps. I feel like, now, I'm thinking less, because I have it down. I'm more comfortable this year."

With his natural position being at cornerback, the coaching staff can utilize Melifonwu for spot reps at the position when needed. 

The added depth in the secondary provides Campbell and the coaching staff added comfort heading into a pivotal 2023 season. 

"He just needs time. He needs time on task. He needs reps, like a lot of young guys do," Campbell explained. "And particularly when you’re talking about a new position. Now, here’s the beauty of Iffy, too -- he continues to train there, but you’ve seen he’s played some corner, too. So, we’ll still throw him out there, particularly if a guy needs a blow for a minute, we’ll put him out there. And so, he still has the ability to do some of that. We see him as a safety, but yet, he’s played corner. So, if you need him in a pinch, he can go out there.”