Why Detroit Lions rookie Aidan Hutchinson already feels like an old pro in training camp

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions coaching staff sang the praises of rookie Aidan Hutchinson as they introduced him less than 24 hours after drafting him.

A kid who’d never lived more than 30 miles from the team’s headquarters in Allen Park and grew up wanting to wear the Honolulu blue — the story line wrote itself.

The hype for the No. 2 overall pick continued into rookie minicamp, organized team activities, and team minicamp but even then, Hutchinson said he was still adjusting.

“I don’t know if it has set in yet, to be honest with you, like I’m here, I’m a Detroit Lion, it’s just the weirdest thing thinking back to when I grew up and stuff and now I’m here,” he said in early June. “I know my expectations and I pride myself on not making the same mistake twice.

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“I can really feel it every day, I’m learning something new and I’m screwing up, but it’s OK because that’s what it takes to take that next step.”

He’s since gone through the majority of his first training camp with more eyes on him than usual — he can thank his viral Michael Jackson performance on HBO’s Hard Knocks” for that.

Less than three weeks from the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, as the responsibility has continued to pile, Hutchinson has done nothing but impress.

“I can’t say enough about him,” said Lions defensive line coach on Monday. “We got the right one.”

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Hutchinson didn’t play in Saturday’s 27-26 win in preseason game No. 2 against the Colts, as the vast majority of the starters sat out.

This comes after he played just one series in his preseason debut against the Atlanta Falcons and recorded two tackles including a three-yard tackle for loss on the defense’s second play of the day.

That he’s among the group who the coaches feel confident about — despite such limited game reps — speaks volumes to what the staff thinks of him.

“You know Hutch is a pro already, the way he studies and he works,” Wash said. “We had a play we ran (against Indianapolis) and he’d never seen it before and he goes ‘well our offense does this’ and I go ‘we’ll we’re not playing our damn offense,’ so we re-run it and he gets it right away.”

Hutchinson’s athletic ability speaks for itself; one doesn’t set the sack record at Michigan and end up as the Heisman Trophy runner-up and a top-two draft pick without high skill.

But his  dedication to the craft and doing the work in the film room has accelerated his growth in his first summer as a professional.

“It’s the way he studies, he’s constantly in his iPad,” Wash said. “It’s amazing how well he can pick stuff up, he does not make a mistake, not even usually the first time, so that’s a credit to him. He studies, he takes care of his body and probably more importantly he’s just a great human being in the room.

“He fits in extremely well, the guys really love him, it’s awesome.”

Contact Tony Garcia at apgarcia@freepress.com. Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.

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