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Notes: 2 Detroit Lions defenders make PFF’s preseason Team of the Week

2 young Detroit Lions defenders—Jack Campbell and Levi Onwuzurike—made PFF’s preseason Team of the Week after impressive days against the Giants.

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New York Giants v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions defense was one of the worst in the league last year, but there have been reasons to be optimistic about a shift in 2023. Detroit played much better football on that side of the ball in the second half of last season, and they’ve made significant upgrades at every line of defense this offseason.

The first tangible sign of improvement on defense came on Friday night during the Lions’ preseason opener against the New York Giants. Detroit allowed just 5.8 yards per pass attempt and 3.7 yards per carry against the Giants, while tallying five sacks and an interception.

While it was Julian Okwara who posted the most impressive traditional box score (3.0 sacks) two other individual performances were hailed by analytics site PFF. Both defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike and rookie linebacker Jack Campbell made PFF’s Preseason Team of the Week.

Campbell also received PFF’s “Rookie of the Week” honors, finishing the game with four tackles and a pass defense.

“The former Iowa standout was on the field for 25 snaps in total, finishing the game with two tackles resulting in a defensive stop and not allowing a reception in coverage,” PFF’s Gordon McGuinness wrote.

PFF didn’t write up anything individually about Onwuzurike, but he received the team’s second-highest PFF grade (89.3), which also ranked second among all NFL interior defenders with at least 10 snaps in their respective games.

You can see the full PFF Team of the Week here, and also keep tabs on how each 2023 NFL Draft pick performed here.

  • Some media shenanigans from Monday between Jameson Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown:

  • If you don’t know Maurice Alexander’s origin story, Peter Schrager from NFL Network has a nice segment on it here:

I also asked teammate Kalif Raymond about Alexander’s punt return touchdown, and this is what he said about the man they call “Hard Time”

“I’ll tell you what. Let me just get two seconds. This may be a little bit of a rant. So this man, we call him Hard Time, he’s been back there just listening. After practice, catching jugs. Walk through, catching jugs, just listening. And then as I’m working, he’s working. And a lot people don’t know his story. This dude’s working another job, got a call from the USFL, balls out for the USFL, becomes a Detroit Lion and then finally takes a punt back in the NFL. There’s a lot of work that went in between that moment–the moment had in that game, and a lot of work that went in between that nobody saw. And that dude works his tail off.

“There’s a time in OTAs, he’s just running routes. He’s tired, he throws up in the huddle, goes and runs another route. I hope every time the ball touches his hands he scores a touchdown, because he works so hard. I love that dude, and I’m so thankful. All it takes is one, you take one and they come in bunches, like snowballs. He put hte work in for that moment to happen so I’m thankful for him, I’m happy for him, I’m proud of him, but I’m not surprised by it.”

  • Good news for you out-of-market Lions fans:

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