Benching hasn’t diminished Detroit Lions DL Michael Brockers’ leadership role

Detroit Free Press

Todd Wash gathered his defensive linemen before their position group meeting Wednesday and asked everyone who’d been in the playoffs to raise their hand.

There was Romeo Okwara, who had a sack in his lone playoff appearance in 2016 with the New York Giants, and Isaiah Buggs, who was on the Pittsburgh Steelers teams that made the postseason each of the past two years but did not play in either game. Finally, there was Michael Brockers.

The only 30-something on the Detroit Lions‘ 53-man roster, Brockers has played in more playoff games (six) than anyone else on the Lions defense. He had seven tackles in the Super Bowl four seasons ago with the Los Angeles Rams, and with the Lions set to play a playoff-type win-and-they-may-be-in game Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, Wash asked Brockers to impart some wisdom on his young teammates.

HEAVY THOUGHTS:Lions back to work with Buffalo Bills S Damar Hamlin on their mind

JEFF SEIDEL:C’mon, Baker Mayfield! Lions fans are cheering for you and the LA Rams

“He talked about how the intensity is going to be higher than any other normal regular season game come Sunday night, ’cause we’re all playing for something,” said Wash, the Lions’ second-year defensive line coach. “So I think his leadership, it’s been big all year long. I know he hasn’t been on the grass much, but what he does for that group is priceless. You can’t put anything on it.”

Brockers, by his own admission, has had a “rough” second season in Detroit.

He started the first five games, in which he made a minimal impact with four tackles, then was benched in mid-October as the Lions went young on their defensive line.

Brockers has played in one game since the Lions’ Week 6 bye, but has maintained a key leadership role on one of the youngest defenses in the NFL. The Lions start four rookies in all and give heavy minutes to three on their defensive line — James Houston, Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal.

“That’s the O.G. of the room, and he is more like a selfless leader,” Paschal said. “He took on a role this year to help us out and to show us how veterans should work and what it takes to get to where he’s at right now. He’s played 11 years in the league, which is a great career, and he’s showing us the blueprint to get there.”

While Brockers would prefer to be on the field, he told the Free Press on Wednesday this season has taught him “a lot of mental fortitude” and given him a better “understanding (of) who I am.”

He often treats his linemates to Friday dinners and helps run a weekly players-only meeting in which the defense goes over its opponents’ anticipated opening-game script.

“It’s been rough, been rough, but I got a great group,” Brockers said. “Great group of guys who understand that even though I wasn’t in there playing the games, my leadership off the field, leading them in practices, pumping them up, motivate them throughout the week just to lock in, stuff like that, they take heed to it. So I appreciate these guys for just letting me be a part of the team still and just be me.”

Brockers, 32, has one non-guaranteed season left on the restructured contract he signed after the Lions acquired him in a trade from the Rams in 2021.

He likely has played his last game as a Lion already, though he said he has not decided if he wants to play again in 2023.

“I know I can still play,” Brockers said. “I know I can still play in this league physically. Mentally, it’s a thing that I’m kind of thinking about, but other than that, not really. I’m just finishing this year out strong and get into the offseason and see what happens after that.”

Whatever happens, players say Brockers’ impact on the Lions defense won’t be forgotten.

“That’s why I want to lead,” Brockers said. “That’s what I want to leave my legacy is knowing that Brock was a professional, he came in every day, ready to work, locked in, ready to go no matter what.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

Articles You May Like

NFL mock draft 3.0: With Georgia DT Jalen Carter on the board, do Detroit Lions bite?
Mounting character concerns mean Detroit Lions pass on Jalen Carter — for now — in mock draft
Former Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye signs with New York Giants
Open thread: How should the Lions replace DJ Chark?
Lions free agent DJ Chark signs with Carolina Panthers: Opportunity ‘second to none’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *