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Jermar Jefferson Explains Improvements Made Since OTAs

Detroit Lions rookie running back explains why he sees value in playing special teams and what he did after OTAs to improve his game and his speed.

Rookie running back Jermar Jefferson has caught the attention of media members during the first week of Detroit Lions training camp for his decisiveness, his vision, his improved cuts and his ability to get into open space. 

Jefferson, drafted in the seventh-round of the 2021 NFL Draft, is adapting to life in the National Football League. 

On Tuesday, he was observed on one rush making a couple of sharp cuts to allow himself to get to the outside corner, after his original lane collapsed. 

Jefferson has run with impressive vision thus far, and has made a few really nice, sharp cuts that have gotten him into open space. 

The rookie running back told SI All Lions Wednesday, "I came in to OTAs around like 216 pounds. On break, coach told me to come back at 210, and that’s exactly what I did. I’ve never felt better. I feel a lot quicker out of my cuts, and like that breakaway speed, I feel like I improved in that, as well." 

Lions head coach Dan Campbell has also noticed Jefferson's steady improvement since OTAs. 

“I feel like every day Jefferson’s done a little bit more, you know,” Campbell told reporters Wednesday. “He’s making a couple of runs here, he’s got pretty good vision. He’s got a ‘feel’ about him, and I feel like he’s growing a little bit every day. He’s smart. He’s one of those guys when I’ve been in Duce’s (Staley) meetings, when Duce calls on him, he’s got it.”

@Camren Clouthier, SI All Lions 

@Camren Clouthier, SI All Lions 

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Bouncing back after losing a rep in training camp

On Tuesday, Jefferson was on the losing end of a special teams drill, when safety Dean Marlowe clearly won the drill by viciously blowing through Jefferson. 

Jefferson's attitude and improved play caught the attention of his head coach. 

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“He got in there, and he got beat bad,” Campbell said. “You could just see it. He wanted to be back in there immediately ... I could tell it really bothered him, and not just bothered him like, ‘Hey look at me, it bothers me,' so you see me like I’m getting bothered. It legitimately like bit at him, and I love that. I love that. I do. Because I know today, he’s not gonna want to let that happen again.”

For Jefferson, he acknowledged that the play woke him up, and forced him to come back to try even harder to battle his teammates.

"Oh definitely. That special teams rep definitely turned me on," Jefferson said. "I’m not a person who likes to lose or anything. So, I’m always trying to come back and come harder."

First impression of training camp

For most rookies, the first week of camp can be overwhelming, especially when the competition level is expected to be at an all-time high, with a new regime. 

"I like it so far. You know, the love of the game. I just love the competition level in practice every day," Jefferson said. "And, it’s great playing special teams and offense and coming out here and learning from the older guys and playing special teams. And learning different positions on special teams.

"I hope to get on every special teams. Punt, punt return, kickoff, do whatever really just to get on the field and play. And, if coach (Campbell) throws me in on offense at running back, I’m gonna do the best to my ability."

Running backs D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams fuel each other

The Lions' running backs will have plenty of opportunities to make plays. 

Early in camp, both D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams have been receiving the bulk of carries and passes out of the backfield. 

Jefferson, meanwhile, has been taking advantage of learning from the other running backs in the room, in order to improve his own game.

"I feel like they’re both really good," Jefferson said. "They complement each other, they go hand-in-hand. I feel like they fuel each other when they’re in the game. Just being in the same room as those guys, I’m just learning different things. With the vets and everything, how can they help me?"