Detroit Lions’ seventh-round pick, cornerback Chase Lucas, entered training camp as the team’s third-string nickel, but he has been stacking days at camp and is working hard to take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way.
“Listen, he’s a tough—pretty smart, pretty aware, high-energy type player and he got out there and mixed it up,” coach Dan Campbell said at Monday’s press conference. “I think with Lucas, man, he just needs to be in the program a little bit. And what I mean by that is get a little bit more bulk and strength to him which will come in time. But he’s got something about him. There is something because he gets things in a hurry (and) he’s highly competitive.”
Lucas is easy to find on the practice field because when he is between the lines, you often hear him shouting out communications to his fellow defensive backs. He’s loud and unmistakable. And that confidence to make pre-snap adjustments with authority is something you don’t often see with rookies, but it’s clearly present with Lucas.
“My confidence is through the roof, especially with the playbook,” Lucas said on Monday. “Every day I go home or go to the hotel and just go through my plays, man. Go to the iPad and go through the installs and I think that AG (defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) and AP (defense backs coach Aubrey Pleasant) are very happy with me and very excited for what I can bring to the table. I know I just tell ‘em every time, ‘I’m only gonna mess up once. After you tell me that first time, I’m not gonna forget it.’ So I feel like I’m very confident and comfortable, too.”
One of those times Lucas believes he “messed up” was in the Lions' preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Lions up three points and under two minutes to play, Lucas was lined up in the slot guarding against a trips-right formation. At the snap, Lucas correctly passed off his man to the safety—a staple decision in split-zone coverage—recognized wide receiver Tyshaun James was moving into his area on a 6-yard button hook and drove on the football. Lucas undercut the route and made a beautiful pass breakup, but in his eyes, he got his hands on the ball and was disappointed he didn’t make what would have been a game-sealing interception.
“We were just playing a (redacted) coverage in cover 2,” Lucas said, explaining the play. “I seen my progressions and I seen him kind of staring at the receiver. So, I just kind of took my opportunity and I broke on the ball. It was a good play. It was an ok play. But it could’ve been a great play. Just ending the game with a pick and going down. It could’ve been a pick-six, so I’m just trying to brush it off and just kind of learn from my experience.”
Here’s a look at the play, the first in this clip below:
Lions rookie CB Chase Lucas (seventh rd; Arizona State) has had a solid training camp. Don't be shocked at all if Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant start giving him more reps. He's earned it. Others could use the message. pic.twitter.com/V0nu5GDshK— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 14, 2022
After the game, I spoke with Lucas in the locker room and congratulated him on the two plays highlighted above. While he politely thanked me, he also made it very clear he was not happy about dropping that potential “storybook ending” interception.
“Man, I’ve watched it every single day,” Lucas elaborated on Monday. “My best friends called me on my phone, like, ‘Man, you’re dropping money on the ground.’ Just like, ‘you don’t like money. You don’t wanna get paid.’ I ain’t gonna lie to you, man, after that game I was beating myself up bad.’ And people just kept coming to me like, ‘Man, you made two great plays back-to-back’. Just to me, I’m a perfectionist, the kind of competitor that I am, it’s gonna keep beating me up until I get my first pick in the NFL.”
While Lucas is still, at a minimum, three-plus weeks away from regular season football, he was able to illustrate his ability to rebound during the team’s next practice, securing a late interception while working with the second team.
“I had to make up for Friday, man,” Lucas said of the interception at practice. “I had to get something. I had to get my hands on some balls, at least, today.”
Lucas is still working through his rookie learning curve, but every day at practice he improves and it seems only a matter of time before he breaks out.
“At the end of the day, I was just really glad to get the opportunity,” Lucas continued. “Coach Glenn and Coach A.P. believe in me, and I just gotta take that with a grain of salt, put that on my shoulders and keep stacking days.”