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'You've Got to Let Them Play': GM Brad Holmes Discusses Player Development

Detroit Lions general manger Brad Holmes discusses how he feels younger players acclimate to the NFL.

For the Detroit Lions, the retooling process will involve overhauling their roster over the course of the next couple of offseasons. 

Based on the moves made in free agency, it is evident that Lions general manager Brad Holmes is planning to build up the roster through the NFL Draft. 

This past offseason, the Lions signed several free agents to short, one-year contracts, instead of making a splash and bringing in a high-priced player who would eat up a significant portion of the salary cap. 

Last week, Holmes said in a SiriusXM Radio interview that he and head coach Dan Campbell agree on how the young players that are brought in are going to develop: via in-game reps.

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"It's great to have a young team, but you’ve got to let them play. I remember back when I was with the Rams, (general manager) Les Snead used to say, 'You’ve got to let them cross the street by themselves.' Dan and I were aligned in that, and said that however this shapes out, we have these young guys, you can’t just be on the driving range just chipping away and practicing," Holmes said. "You’ve got to go out there and play. So, hopefully, we’re going to have the young people ready to play and hopefully produce."

A prime example of this was the usage of Julian Okwara in the Lions' first preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. 

Okwara logged nearly 80 percent of the team's defensive snaps, in a game that many felt did not mean anything. 

“We felt like he really needed a load," Campbell said during his postgame media session. "Look, he's a young guy. He's a young guy that is still developing, and we felt like it was important for him to come out and see how he responded. We felt like he had a good week, and then, he kind of hit a downturn there for a little bit and we wanted to see if he would bring it back. I haven't watched the tape, but I did see that he affected the quarterback. He made some plays. He's like a number of those guys. You can't forget he's a second-year player that just needs reps. It was good to see him make some plays, it really was.”