Allen Park — This isn’t new to Lions defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
During his nine seasons with the Rams, he experienced the significant changes that come with a different coaching staff when head coach Jeff Fisher was fired and replaced by Sean McVay.
Entering his first year in Detroit, Brockers once again is part of a team that’s adjusting to a completely new staff and leader as Dan Campbell takes over the reins as a first-time head coach.
“This is a new era,” Brockers said Wednesday after the Lions’ first training camp practice. “I’ve been a part of a new regime and coming in and having that unknown factor. But when you have a lot of guys buying in, you have a lot of guys trusting in the process and just coming to work, it shows on the field.”
Brockers figures to play a prominent role in helping the Lions try to turn things around and build a winning culture, just like he did after the coaching change in Los Angeles. He was acquired in a March trade with the Rams and was one of the first moves Brad Holmes made when he became general manager.
Yet despite being an established and productive veteran who has started throughout his career, Brockers, 30, doesn’t want his track record to do all the talking. Instead, the 6-foot-5, 297-pounder feels the need to prove himself to his new teammates.
“Coach gave me a lot of high praise when I first came in. I didn’t want all that,” Brockers said. “I just wanted to be one of the guys, come in, work hard, really gain a lot of the guys’ trust, show my work ethic and just show them what I’ve been doing and what I’ve learned. If there’s any little two cents of knowledge I can give the guys, I’ll share.
“But I didn’t come in to roo the rah or say I’m the captain or anything like that. I just wanted to come in, work my butt off and just show these guys why they brought me here.”
Brockers should provide some juice to a defensive line that struggled to generate interior pressure and ranked toward the bottom of the league last year, considering he’s coming off a season where he tallied 30 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus, and five sacks.
More importantly, he’ll serve as a mentor to rookie defensive tackles Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike and will lead by example with his work ethic — one that was shaped by former teammate Aaron Donald.
“(Donald) has a hell of a work ethic and it drives you,” Brockers said. “Seeing the guy who is ranked 99 on Madden every year, has all the accolades, defensive player of the year, and then to see him work as hard as he does — doesn’t take a rep off, doesn’t take a day off — it makes you drive harder because if this guy is willing to still work and he has everything, who am I?
“He definitely helped me a lot as far as putting in the extra work, doing the extra reps, doing extra stuff in the weight room to always keep yourself strong, always keep yourself at tip-top shape because you never want to fall off in this game. Once you decline, everybody is going to have something to say. If you work hard, put the work in, most likely you’ll stay on top.”
That’s a position the Lions are striving to be. And after coming from a franchise in Los Angeles that had high expectations, Brockers wants to do his part and create a similar vibe in Detroit.
“A lot of people are doubting us, but that’s OK,” Brockers said. “As long as we come in every day and focus one day at a time on what we have to do, we’ll be all right.”