Malcolm Rodriguez got a start in his NFL debut, and the Lions rookie linebacker was pretty much as advertised.
Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn attempted to play it coy, but Lions rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez indeed started Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Only Alex Anzalone played more snaps among Detroit linebackers than his 46, and he had six total tackles with one tackle for loss.
Rodriguez was the Lions’ highest-graded defensive player in Week 1 by Pro Football Focus (73.4 overall grade, h/t to SI.com). However, he was credited with two missed tackles and four catches allowed on as many targets in coverage (for only 24 yards though)–so he was not without some flaw.
It was a rough day for the Lions trying to stop the Eagles’ running game, and quarterback Jalen Hurts in particular. But (via MLive) Rodriguez has the fifth-highest Week 1 PFF grade among linebackers with enough snaps to qualify entering Monday night.
Malcolm Rodriguez was as advertised in his first NFL start
After the game. Ben Raven of MLive and other reporters noticed Rodriguez had a swollen left cheek. He explained it was a visor issue, apparently via a stiff arm from Hurts.
I had to take my visor off. Had like a little screw. When I hit somebody, it ended up — punched me back in the face. So the visor didn’t like me, so I took it off on the sideline.”
The highlight for Rodriguez from his NFL regular season debut has to be this play. Yes, multiple angles are required.
Rodriguez was an All-State high school wrestler, so being able to pull off a clean hip toss shouldn’t be too surprising. He got squared up and blocked very well on the play near the end zone, to the point of clear frustration.
That’s not just some run-of-the-mill offensive lineman Rodriguez spun around and threw down like a rag doll either. That’s Eagles’ five-time Pro Bowl (and four-time All-Pro) center Jason Kelce, who also weighs around 300 pounds.
Rodriguez has some things to refine, but he showed a nose for the ball and he played with a bit of an edge (see the body slam of Kelce) on Sunday. So….he was pretty much as advertised in his NFL debut.