Lions notes: Hutchinson ready to shine on big stage; Elliott irked by Rodgers’ disrespect

Detroit News

Allen Park — Since the day he was drafted by the Detroit Lions, hometown product Aidan Hutchinson has made it clear he wants to be a central figure in turning around the perceptions of the franchise. Sunday night, in his first primetime game as a professional, it will be another opportunity for the rookie defensive end to take a step forward with that goal.

“I just love all of it, which is why I’m hoping we can get into the playoffs, so we can keep having these nationally televised games and getting the Lions out of where we were and more into being one of those teams that’s always in primetime, always up there with the rest of those good teams,” Hutchinson said. “… Everything about being a primetime game and being one of those primetimes teams is something I think, playing for the Lions, is something I want to get used to.”

And while there’s been plenty of talk about the young roster’s lack of experience in these big-moment scenarios, that’s less applicable with Hutchinson, who played in a massively important season finale last year while at the Michigan. In that game, the team needed to beat rival Ohio State to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Not only did Michigan accomplish that goal, snapping an eight-game skid in the rivalry, Hutchinson delivered a memorable performance, racking up three sacks and a staggering 15 quarterback pressures.

“I always say this, in the biggest games, that’s where I feel like I get the most excited,” Hutchinson said. “You want to make a play knowing it’s nationally televised and everyone is watching. That stuff gets me fired up and gets me excited. It’s like that Ohio State game last year.

“…I felt like at Michigan we got to (play in primetime) a pretty good amount, but doing it at Green Bay, end of the year, it’s one of those Ohio State feelings, where everything is on the line and you want to have your best performance,” Hutchinson said. “It’s all of that. It definitely gives me those vibes, which is why I’m so excited for it.”

Tired of the disrespect

It’s often said respect is earned, not given, but Lions safety DeShon Elliott has had enough with the snide comments that have been made by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Set to return to the starting lineup after a two-game absence due to a shoulder injury, Elliott is as eager as anyone for Sunday’s game, ready to show the opposition why the Lions deserve to be respected.

“This means a lot, because I feel like they don’t respect us,” Elliott said. “A-Rod doesn’t respect us. That team doesn’t respect us. We shouldn’t be an underdog, no matter what the record says. Going out there, I think we’re going to fight our ass off, play smash-mouth football, just ’cause of the respect factor. Like, we all got here someway, somehow. Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer, but I just don’t respect the way he’s been talking about my guys all year and the way that team views us. So we’re going to go out there and prove something.”

After losing to the Lions earlier this season, Rodgers said, “We can’t lose a game like that against that team.” That’s irked several Detroit players, but few have been as outwardly agitated as Elliott.

“The way he carries himself, I don’t like none of that s—,” Elliott said. “We got to go out there and show what we can do. And show who the big dog (is), back up all the talking we do. We’re going to go out there and do that.

“I just feel like overall, as a competitor bro, you respect everybody in this league,” Elliott continued. “And for you to see something or hear someone say some wild stuff about you or your teammates or your brothers, shoot, what are you going to do? Are you going to lay down or stand up? So, we’re going to go out there and stand up.”

Black cloud lifted

As he did Wednesday, Lions coach Dan Campbell opened his Friday press conference expressing joy and relief with the continued recovery of Damar Hamlin. The Buffalo Bills safety went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated during Monday Night’s game with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Man, that’s awesome,” Campbell said. “It’s unbelievable, but I think that just the power of prayer, I believe (in) it, and that’s just great news.”

Hamlin, who remains hospitalized in Cincinnati, had his breathing tube removed early Friday morning, a day after waking up and being able to communicate with medical personnel and family members. He was well enough Friday to talk to teammates via FaceTime.

“I know for me, just me personally, to see that, it feels like, it’s kind of a sigh of relief,” Campbell said. “I do think there’s a little bit of a black cloud lifted or a load off. That’s just great news because that’s all you think about is him and his family, so it’s just great.”

Okwara honored

The Lions honored Romeo Okwara with the team’s annual Ed Block Courage Award on Friday.

Okwara suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on Oct. 10, 2021 and was out of action for 14 months before taking the field for the team’s Week 14 matchup with Minnesota in December.

“In his recovery, he faced many hurdles and challenges, but his unwavering work ethic and positive attitude propelled him through the process, and he made it back onto the field where he has excelled,” Lions head athletic trainer Kevin Bastin said in a statement released by the team. “Romeo is a true professional and he is very deserving of this award as we conclude the 2022 regular season.”

Since returning to action, Okwara has logged 107 defensive snaps, recording seven tackles and 2.0 sacks.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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