A new era starts Wednesday for the Detroit Lions.
Wednesday marks the first day of training camp, which leads directly into the start of the 2021 NFL season.
For the Lions, it’s the first year of a new regime. General manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell are set to embark on their first season with the organization.
Campbell said there was plenty of excitement heading into the start of camp. So much excitement, in fact, that he didn’t sleep much Tuesday night.
“My first thought was, man, I didn’t sleep at all,” Campbell said. “But, that’s okay. I got plenty of energy without sleep.”
Now that the Lions have reported to camp, Campbell said he and his team are raring to go in preparation for the season.
“We’re ready, man,” Campbell said. “We’re ready for day one. It’s about to be really fun. These guys showed up in shape. We’re big, we’re long, we’re strong. We look explosive. They crushed the conditioning tests, so I’m fired up about that.”
Lions are 80 percent vaccinated
The decision to get the vaccine is one that could make or break the season for some teams. Just last week, the Minnesota Vikings were forced to let go of Rick Mattison, an assistant coach, because he was unable to be around players due to being unvaccinated.
The Lions, however, are above 80 percent as a team, in terms of being vaccinated.
“I know we’re over 80 percent, and we’re getting a little more every day,” Campbell said.
Campbell has said in past press conferences that the entire coaching staff was fully vaccinated, meaning there will be little-to-no trouble in terms of coach-to-player communication.
“We all know what’s going on with the rules when it pertains to vaccinations,” Campbell said. “And, they’ve been outstanding, the players. And then us, the staff, working with them.”
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Enjoy the ride
Campbell is known for his energy and commitment to football. The next step is conveying that to his players, which doesn’t seem to be a challenge.
“I kind of told the team last night that there’s a number of things that play into all this,” Campbell said. “We all know competition is the biggest. But, really, it’s enjoy this ride, man. Enjoy this ride we’re on. We know this is high stress, man. Winning, it’s about finding ways to win. It’s about overcoming adversity. But, enjoy this ride, because it’s the last time this team is together.”
This Lions' roster is one with a lot of turnover from last season. Plenty of starters are gone, including quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.
In their place, Jared Goff has taken the reins at quarterback, while free-agent signings Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman will suit up at wide receiver. These newcomers are looking to make waves in their first season as Lions, much like Campbell.
“Everybody who was in this room, we all know it,” Campbell said. “Because of the draft and free agency, this is it, man. This is our month, or our months. This is where you build your team, man, your philosophy, what you’re about. This sets the tone, the standard, for how you’re gonna be able to endure the ups and downs of the season. And certainly to handle the downs. But, we’ve gotta be able to handle the ups, too, because we’re gonna have some of those. But, man, enjoy this. Enjoy everything about this.”
Another newcomer is defensive end Michael Brockers, who was acquired in a trade this offseason with the Los Angeles Rams. Brockers is looking to be a solid contributor, and has made a good first impression on his new team.
“Brockers, man, it was outstanding,” Campbell said. “We had three groups on the conditioning test, three groups of basically 18. So, they’re doing it, he was in the first group. He gets done, does a great job. Kind of catches his breath for about two minutes. Then, he’s talking trash to the rest of the guys. But, it’s fun. It just is. You put in the work, you get it done. And, now, you can push your teammates and poke at them a little bit.”
Campbell is looking to change the culture. Through this, he’s looking to build camaraderie and a kinship between his players.
“It’s just the camaraderie, man,” Campbell said. “It’s about being around the guys. It’s about sweating. I mean, if you want something bad enough, you’ve gotta bleed a little bit for it in this sport. And that’s what makes it worth it. Shit, enjoy the grind. Enjoy the grind of it. It’s not for everybody. That’s what makes it great.”
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