Detroit Lions linebacker Reggie Ragland likes his new teammates. And without wanting to presume too much, Ragland said he believes they like him, too.
There was hardly any question Sunday about the mutual affection.
After he intercepted a Matthew Stafford pass in a seven-on-seven drill and returned it nearly the length of the field for a pick-six, Ragland’s teammates dogpiled on him in the end zone.
It looked like human bowling pins writhing around in raucous, cackling laughter. It was one of the most joyous moments in the Lions’ first week of padded practices.
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Ragland said the last time he returned a pick-six that far was last year when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs and intercepted Patrick Mahomes in practice.
“And you see how that turned out,” he said. “We ended up winning the Super Bowl. So hopefully the same thing can go on this year.”
One person’s omen is another person’s coincidence. But Ragland took it even further in drawing comparisons to the two teams.
“I see the same qualities in this team as in Kansas City,” he said. “We’ve got the pieces. We’ve just got to keep putting them together and just keep playing hard and being consistent and just keep finishing. I think we’ve got the guys to do that. We’ve just got to go out there and just play ball.”
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That’s where Ragland comes in. He’s a veteran with championship experience and solid credentials as a run-stopper. He isn’t known as a turnover machine, with just one interception and one forced fumble in three seasons.
But Ragland’s pick occurred for the very reason the Lions signed him to a one-year deal in the offseason: He knows how to listen to coaches and do his job, even without the benefit of a traditional offseason while transitioning to a new team.
“And one thing (linebackers coach Ty McKenzie) is always preaching is do your job, but if you can make a play, make a play,” he said. “All I did was just do my job, hold out on the outside of the running back and then just read Matt’s eyes and then all I did was go up and make a play. So it’s all about just being a playmaker and (knowing) what I’m doing.”
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Stafford chased Ragland down the sideline but didn’t try to tackle him, which is standard practice in camp. But Ragland had no doubt he would have still beaten Stafford to the end zone if they were going all out.
“You’re damn skippy I would have,” he said. “He told me in the locker room he would have caught me, but he wouldn’t have caught me. I’m telling you, with some fresh legs on game day I’m gone.”
So far, Ragland likes everything about the Lions. He likes his teammates and the versatility of the scheme. It has shown so far.
“My thing is I’m asking my teammates questions, I’m asking the coaches questions about how to keep getting better in this system and this scheme,” he said. “So my job is to keep getting better day by day, even though I know I’m behind the 8 ball with no OTAs and things like that.
“But in this league it ain’t no excuse, so you’ve just got to keep getting better and just keep finding ways of trying to get better out on the field.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.