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Notes: Malcolm Rodriguez to become two-way player against Saints

Offense, defense, the man can do it all.

Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

He’s done one or the other, but now Detroit Lions “linebacker” Malcolm Rodriguez is expected to play both sides of the ball in a single game against the New Orleans Saints this week.

A few months back, many Lions fans were surprised to see the linebacker stepping in at fullback after Jason Cabinda was placed on IR. Rodrigo has played 20 offensive snaps since Week 7 and drew national attention on Thanksgiving when he caught his first pass.

Selected in the sixth round of the 2022 draft, Rodriguez was considered a steal after balling out his rookie campaign as a linebacker. In 16 games (15 starts), he registered 87 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, and a sack. Not to mention this memorable hip toss:

But this year, his defensive playing time dropped to just 66 snaps—mostly due to how well other linebackers are playing. The Lions have more-so leaned on veteran Alex Anzalone, who is having a career year, Derrick Barnes, and rookie Jack Campbell. Rodriguez has played 187 snaps on special teams so far in 2023, though.

This week, Anzalone is expected to be out with a hand injury, so fans may see Rodriguez line up in all three phases against New Orleans.

“He’s gonna have to take on a bigger load,” Dan Campbell said Wednesday. “He plays a little bit on defense and we’re gonna need him more on offense, too. So we’re gonna stretch him out here a little bit, but he can handle it. He’s got hands, too, you saw that, can flip his hips. He’s tough, he’s got leverage. He’s smart.”

And onto the rest of your notes.

  • As Dan Campbell gears up to face his former team, MLive’s Ben Raven explores just how much of an impact his time with the Saints has had on these new-look Lions.

  • It appears the Lions may be putting some extra emphasis on keeping the ball safe. Probably not a bad idea.

  • Power rankings, power rankings, get your power rankings here. NFL.com’s Eric Edholm has some for ya, featuring a big drop for the Lions.

  • Khalil Dorsey explains why Michigan mental health program “be nice.” was his choice for My Cause My Cleats.

  • Rookie Brian Branch getting some deserved recognition.

  • The Lions’ two-headed monster has a chance to make history this week.

  • Have you seen “Bye, Bye, Barry” on Amazon Video yet? Wept like a Charmin-soft baby at the end. Hear from Sanders himself, plus the executive producer below:

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