Lions emphasizing situational work at mandatory minicamp, OTAs

Detroit News

Allen Park — This time two years ago, cause for optimism was slim pickings around Allen Park. Heading into the bulk of the 2023 offseason, it’s plentiful.

And while it’s quite obvious how and why this point was reached, it does beg the question: What does this evolution look like on a day-to-day basis?

Lions head coach Dan Campbell reflected before a mandatory minicamp session on how his job has changed over the last two years.

“(In) 2021, you’re trying to get on your feet. You’re trying to establish your foundation. ‘This is how we’re built. This is our identity. This is what we want to be. This is how we need to finish games,’” Campbell said.

“And so once you get that and the staff understands what you want, then you get the players that understand it, then you start building the players around your vision. … Here we go ‘22, how do we get better? To me, that’s the sole focus. It’s not on any of the other stuff because the other stuff is a byproduct.”

On a micro level, the daily goal of simply wanting to get better hasn’t changed. But by now, both sides of the ball have a pretty firm understanding of what’s required and how the schemes work. The luxury for Campbell’s crew these days is being able to jump to situational work in the springtime.

“Because we are in Year 3…now that that’s been established over two years, it’s much more — we’ve always done a lot of situational work, but…we’re really doubling down on it,” Campbell said. “Like I want a lot more to where I’m forcing the coordinators to have to think on their feet. A lot more — it’s a little more chaotic, sporadic. I mean we’re doing it right now. And just trying to put everybody under a high level of stress, because I think that’s good for the coordinators and the players.

“That’s kind of where my approach has shifted a little bit, a lot more into that because I think the more we can handle under pressure and under fire and be able to adapt, adjust, the picture changes, I can adapt quickly. I think that’s where you — games are won and lost, when you’ve got the right guys.”

More time to drill high-leverage situations, naturally, has raised the intensity early on.

“We’re a lot further along than two years ago for sure,” Campbell said. “We feel like now we’ve got some significant depth in just about all areas, which creates competition. … I really feel like the biggest area where you can see it is the secondary.”

Campbell said Thursday the team made great progress covering the different sets of circumstances over OTAs and minicamp.

“We’ve gotten everything that I wanted to get checked off, we’ve done,” Campbell said. “When you can get some first-, second-down work, when you can get third down, red zone, the other stuff, the four-minute (offense), the backed up — short yardage, goal line, that portion won’t come till training camp.

“But as far as most of what you need to focus on, we’ve hit.”

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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