On Tuesday night, news broke that the Detroit Lions signed veteran edge defender Bruce Irvin to the practice squad. The Lions made it official on Wednesday, and coach Dan Campbell talked about why the team decided to add the 36-year-old defender.
“Let’s get some veteran guys,” Campbell said. “We feel like—it’s hard to find players as the season goes on here that you may need.”
Irvin brings plenty of experience to a relatively young defensive line. Irvin has played 11 seasons in the NFL, tallying 55.0 sacks, including 3.5 with the Seahawks over 11 games last season. Meanwhile, on the Lions’ 53-man roster, only two defensive linemen (Charles Harris, and Romeo Okwara) have more than four full seasons under their belt. Along that defensive front, Aidan Hutchinson, Brodric Martin, Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, and Josh Paschall all remain on their rookie contract.
Detroit has struggled in the sack department this season. Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers was already the sixth time they’ve logged zero or one sack in a game, and their overall total of 21 sacks is tied for 21st in the league.
Despite that, Campbell said he’s actually been mostly pleased with the team’s overall pass rush.
“Most of the games we’ve played this year, our pressure has been very good,” Campbell said. “We’re getting to the quarterback, and then we’ve had a couple games where it doesn’t. And I think we’ve got to be careful that we’re (not) judging everything off of one or two times here.”
In Campbell’s defense, the Lions have produced 91 pressures (per Pro Football Reference), good for 12th in the NFL.
But what attracted Campbell to Irvin were a couple of things that stood out during his workout with the team this week. Particularly, his quick first step, his strength, and his ability to bend.
“He came in, gave us a little workout yesterday, enough to see where he’s at,” Campbell said. “He’s got superhuman genes by the way. I mean this guy, he takes great care of himself.”
It’s unclear when the Lions will give Irvin his shot from the practice squad, but the Lions want to make sure he gets in “football shape,” despite already being in great shape.
Ultimately, the team’s decision to add Irvin came down to one mantra that we’ve heard several times from this regime.
“You can never have too many rushers in your building.”