The Lions made their return to Allen Park Wednesday with their first day of training camp. Afterwards, quarterback Matthew Stafford and linebacker Jarrad Davis took questions from the media.
A lot of the narrative surrounding Stafford was about his wife Kelly, whose surgery and recovery from a brain tumor was well-documented on social media this offseason.
Additionally, there was talk of Stafford getting to work with his receivers, including new acquisition Danny Amendola in the offseason. Stafford said that practicing with his receivers this offseason has allowed them to work on verbiage and routes from the new offense.
Stafford also talked about balance along the offense. He mentioned that he has been very impressed with sophomore running back Kerryon Johnson’s work ethic. He mentioned as well that the Lions offense “will try to be as balanced as we can,” and will try to dictate the pace and score of the game.
When asked if he felt like he needed to have a bounce-back year, Stafford said he doesn’t pay it much mind because he’s always trying to improve and “every year I come in here I’m trying to prove myself.”
Davis was next at the podium, and started off talking about his comfort going into year two of Matt Patricia’s defense. He said having a year of experience “will help us all play faster,” referring to the entirety of the defense.
He was also asked about rookie linebacker and second-round pick Jahlani Tavai, whom Davis said is very personable and a great teammate “who wants everything that he can get.” He also mentioned that he and Tavai are constantly bouncing ideas off of each other, learning from their respective experiences in the NFL and at Hawaii.
Davis was then asked about whether he can be expected to rush the passer more this year, as there has been speculation that Tavai’s selection will allow Davis to occupy a more diverse role in the defense. Davis only said “you never know man, you never know,” but he broke a smile afterwards. Later on, he also mentioned that he has spent time this offseason working with former Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach and now independent defensive line specialist Pete Jenkins.
All signs are pointing to Davis taking on a larger role rushing the passer in 2019, something that will capitalize on his explosion and resemblance to a heat-seeking missile while reducing the reliance on his occasionally faulty instincts.
Davis wrapped up with a question about how this year’s defense is different from last year’s, to which Davis said “it’s almost like night and day.”