Normally, 330-pound defensive tackles don’t garner a ton of nicknames. The only thing is, second-year Alim McNeill is not your typical interior defensive lineman.
He possesses the feet and athleticism of a smaller human, and when you combine that with his powerful frame, you start to understand why the Detroit Lions selected him at 72 overall in the 2021 NFL draft.
When coach Dan Campbell was asked about McNeill at Tuesday morning’s press conference, he grinned with excitement, and jokingly called him by his latest nickname: “Buttercup”.
“‘Buttercup?’ He’s a stud,” Campbell said. “This guy, he’s been here since day one. Since day one, day one. Shoot man, he’s arguably the strongest pound-for-pound player that we have. We've got some strong guys on this team, but he’s definitely up there and works his rear off. So, I’m bubbling about him.”
As far as nicknames like “Buttercup” go, McNeill took it in stride.
“Somebody told me he called me Buttercup,” McNeill laughed. “I don’t know where that comes from, ain’t never heard … nobody’s ever called me Buttercup. That’s definitely a Coach Campbell thing. He’s definitely the only person that would say that.”
“There’s ‘Mac,’ ‘Twinkletoes’ and ‘Dancing Bear,’” McNeill continued. “I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be something new next week, too.”
For what it’s worth, McNeill said he prefers “Mac”, because “It just makes more sense.”
When asked about the relationship Campbell has with players, McNeill spoke highly of his head coach.
“Yeah, 1000 percent,” McNeill said. “That just shows the culture and the relationship that we have as a team, really. Coach Campbell, he played, so he understands, he gets us. It’s real fun to have your head coach call you Buttercup. But that just shows what type of guy Coach Campbell is.”
And now, onto the rest of today’s notes:
- On a fun note, when McNeill was asked where he likes to go for his cheat meals, he brought up Captain Jay’s.
“If I do a cheat day meal, I wont go crazy,” McNeill explained. “I’ll go to Boston Market or something. But if I’m going crazy, I’ll go to Captain Jay’s or something like that. The chicken and the fries, can’t miss.”
I’m impressed, Alim. Very impressed.
- One final note on McNeill. Campbell had more than just nicknames for McNeill though. As our own Jeremy Reisman wrote this morning, Campbell classifies McNeill as one of the team's core players.
- At last, the latest iteration of ‘Inside the Den’ is scheduled to air at 8 PM EST. What part are you most looking forward to watching?
Literally everyone: "atLions where's Inside the Den?"— Detroit Lions (@Lions) June 8, 2022
- It’s national best friends day. I’ll be sure to hug my animals.
[Editor’s note: And your fiancé, right Morgan?]
It's National Best Friends Day! Who's your A1 from day 1? pic.twitter.com/vOcpOGTyRN— Detroit Lions (@Lions) June 8, 2022
- Using the ESPN Football Power Index, ESPN projects the Lions to have a top-10 draft pick in the 2023 NFL draft.