Dan Campbell on Penei Sewell: 'He Plays Dirty, He's Nasty'

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell shares his thoughts on offensive lineman Penei Sewell.
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The Detroit Lions' front office and coaching staff are working together to ensure the roster is comprised of "gritty" football players who are passionate about playing the game.  

Speaking to the MMQB's Albert Breer last week, both Lions general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell revealed details regarding what type of football player they are looking to add to the organization and the fun attitude they want to instill in the building. 

“Dan really started talking about grit for a football player,” Holmes told Breer. “Guys having grit and having a certain style of play, how they really play the game and not just on the film, not just on the tape, but the way that he loves to dig deep in their background -- What is the adversity that this player has overcome? Did he just have it easy his whole life? Or how did he really have to overcome something and get out of the mud? It just piled onto the whole factor of a player having true grit and sheer toughness for the game.”

The duo's first selection, offensive lineman Penei Sewell, fits the bill in more ways than one.  

It was evident to all involved when the tape was turned on that Sewell is a tough and gritty football player. 

Video from Detroit's draft room revealed the sheer excitement of adding a foundational piece of the offensive line to the organization -- a position group clearly being emphasized by the organization. 

“We were talking about grit. This dude’s got grit,” Campbell said. “He plays dirty, he’s nasty, he gets after people. And I would say this: When he makes a mistake, it’s because he’s trying to kill people. I would rather have a guy you coach backwards from there than a guy you’re constantly having to pry, Man, finish your blocks, would you finish your blocks? You go the other way with this guy, like, Hey would you settle everything down a little bit? You don’t have to kill everybody you hit.”

Football should be fun

The shift in attitude emanating from the organization has not gone unnoticed -- from the media, fans and even the team's principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp. 

Detroit has pivoted away from the secretive and tense aura that surrounded the previous regime. 

The emphasis on fun has even trickled down to the players drafted, who conducted fun and enlightening media sessions, as opposed to the tight-lipped talks with the media that defined the franchise's previous administration. 

“Sheila (Ford) Hamp came in one day, and she was like, ‘Wow, it feels good in here, everybody’s having fun,’“ Holmes said. “And this may have been in early February. And that’s just been an ongoing thing. It’s not something Dan and I have to force, have to write it down and look at it: Let’s make sure we’re having fun. Football should be fun. And, we’re all passionate about it.”