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Despite Presence of 'Hard Knocks', Detroit Lions Still 'Value Wins'

Dan Campbell has not forgotten that the goal of any head coach is to help the roster win football games.

Dan Campbell wants to make the Detroit Lions a winner.

The second-year head coach in Detroit has proven that he cares immensely about the players in his locker room. That passion was on display during the debut episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”, which aired Tuesday and will document the Lions in training camp.

With the Lions set to have a national audience throughout the preseason, Campbell offered his hope for what fans can take away from watching his team on the show.

“I hope they take this, that, man, we value wins,” Campbell said. “And, we’re looking to win. That’s what matters. Out of all this other stuff, all the smoke and mirrors, the clouds, we’re trying to focus on winning. We’ve got to find a way to win.”

Campbell was quick to point out that though the reaction to the show was mostly positive, the sentiment regarding him as a coach could quickly change with a poor start to the season.

“Because it’s all for not, this beautiful bubble and all these things, man, you lose your first three games and all of a sudden I’m getting run out of town,” the head coach said. “And, that’s the reality, and these players don’t look as good. So, we’ve got to find a way to win. That’s what camp is about.”

Expectations for Jeff Okudah

The Lions released an unofficial depth chart Tuesday, leading up to the team’s preseason opener against Atlanta Friday. That depth chart may not hold much weight, but it gave some fans a look at where some position battles may be leaning.

One of the biggest position battles in training camp is still unraveling between Will Harris and Jeff Okudah for the starting cornerback position. Okudah, in particular, has been a big storyline all training camp, as he works back from his season-ending Achilles' injury suffered in Week 1 of the 2021 campaign. 

The depth chart currently has Harris listed ahead of Okudah, though that could certainly change. The Ohio State product is set to make his return Friday when the Lions and Falcons square off, and his head coach outlined what he hopes to see Wednesday during his press conference.

“Like most, when the lights come on and you get a little more pressure against different competition, are you doing, are you taking what you’ve been coached to do, that we’re working on at practice to the field,” Campbell said. “Any player is that way. There’s a number of players who are very good practice players, and then when the lights come on, their technique doesn’t even show up, it’s gone, it’s like they’ve never learned it before.

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“I think Jeff, with everybody, that’s what we’re looking for.”

Importance of the run game

As the Lions enter a new season, they do so with two solid options out of the backfield. In D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Willilams, the team has two starting-caliber running backs available to carry the load.

Campbell wants his teams to be strong and physically imposing. So, being able to run the ball and move the football behind a young, top-tier offensive line is paramount heading into the new year.

The head coach said as much Wednesday, stating the importance of being able to win close games by moving the chains running the ball. Specifically, Campbell spoke on the importance of converting short-yardage and goal-line situations, which is something the team has been working on.

These short-yardage situations have been mutually beneficial, as both sides have gotten good work out of it.

“We’ve got some things that we’ve cooked up that are pretty good,” Campbell noted. “But, it’s all for not if you can’t just, when you really need it, you can line up and lean on somebody and hand it to (Jamaal Williams) or one of these running backs. On the flip side of that, to mano a mano, Alim can take on these double teams, he can split a double team, we can get some penetration. If you can’t do those, it’s all for not.”

Briefly

Following the Hard Knocks season opener, Williams appeared on NFL Network’s "Good Morning Football" for an interview. 

The running back’s charisma and passion won over fans in Hard Knocks, and both were on display during his Wednesday morning interview.