Aidan Hutchinson named NFC Defensive Player of Week; Detroit Lions rookie class thriving

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions are getting big contributions from a rookie class this season that is shaping up to be a foundational part of their future.

Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson became the second Lions rookie to win NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors Wednesday, after his three-tackle, two-takeaway performance in a win against the New York Giants.

Hutchinson intercepted a Daniel Jones pass in the second quarter that set up the Lions’ first touchdown and recovered a Giants fumble in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory.

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The rookie first-round pick leads the Lions with 5½ sacks and has two interceptions.

“The kid, it’s one of the reasons why we liked him,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said last week. “I mean, he’s competitive now. He wants to be – he wants to play within the system, do his job, but he also, he wants to be a difference-maker. Like he views himself as somebody like, ‘I can change the game.’ Like, ‘I can do that.’ And so I think when you get in those critical moments, those high-pressure situations, he’s somebody that thrives in that, like he enjoys that. He doesn’t go the other way and get real tight and tense. He wants to go make a play.”

Lions rookie Kerby Joseph won NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his two-interception game against Aaron Rodgers in a Week 9 win over the Green Bay Packers. Joseph had his third interception of the season against the Giants, and has forced two fumbles in seven starts.

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The Lions (4-6) have started four rookies on defense this season, with sixth-round pick Malcolm Rodriguez seeing significant time at linebacker and second-rounder Josh Paschal playing big minutes at defensive end when healthy.

Rodriguez missed the Lions’ Week 10 win over the Chicago Bears with an elbow injury, while Paschal has been limited to four games by groin and knee injuries.

Jameson Williams, the Lions’ second first-round pick, is expected to make his debut in early December after he returned to practice from the nonfootball injury list this week.

Hutchinson is the third Lions player to win a player of the week award this season. Second-year receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after a Week 2 win over the Washington Commanders, when he caught nine passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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