Dan Campbell will be looking for players with one trait in particular as he whittles the Detroit Lions roster down to 53 players in the coming weeks.
“It’s grit is No. 1,” Campbell said Tuesday. “It’s always been from Day 1. It’s grit.”
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A month out from their Sept. 12 regular season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, the Lions appear to have most of their starting lineup set on both sides of the ball.
Campbell said Monday the majority of players on the two-deep roster will be evident in the coming weeks, and that only about the final three to five roster spots will be up for grabs by the time the Lions close the preseason Aug. 27 against the Indianapolis Colts.
More than players who flash potential, Campbell said he wants resilient, tough, hard-nosed players he knows he can trust at the back end of his roster.
Teams must cut from 90 to 85 players on Aug. 17, from 85 to 80 players on Aug. 24, and be down to 53 players by Aug. 31.
“You’re a guy that your body demeanor never changes (no matter) what happens to you,” Campbell said. “You’re dependable, you’re accountable. It’s everything that you would want in somebody. If you said I need one guy to do a job for me, this is the guy that I’m, really a guy that I’m good with, I trust you. I know exactly who you’re going to be every day, you’re not up and down. You’re the same guy every day. I know who you are.”
The Lions are coming off a 5-11 season and have not had a winning record since 2017, but Campbell said he inherited a roster full of gritty players from his predecessors, Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn.
“I said this when I walked in. There was a number of guys that were here and I think Patricia and Quinn did a great job of, there’s no turds here.” Campbell said. “There’s no bad guys. Like these guys work now. We don’t have guys, ‘Ah, I’m lazy.’ We don’t really have those guys and that’s a good thing. That’s not always the case when you walk in and it hasn’t been a successful program.
“These guys work, and they are, they’re pretty tough-minded, it’s just a matter of, hey, we got to — this is how you got to win. This is what it takes to win, this is what takes to be a winner. This is what it looks like. This is how you walk-through. That’s all it is. It’s just a matter of, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, that’s all.”