Wed, 17 Aug 2022

Rookie Rodriguez showing up in practice, earning more reps

Detroit Lions
03 Aug 2022, 20:25 GMT+10

Mike OHara

Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez got some advice from Detroit Lions Legend Chris Spielman when they met for the first time at rookie minicamp in May.

What Spielman told him might have had at least some impact on Rodriguez moving up on the linebacker depth chart faster than projected.

Rodriguez was sent in with the No. 1 unit for one snap during Monday's practice. It was the first day the Lions were in pads.

One snap may not seem like a lot, but it means Rodriguez has shown some promise.

"It was awesome," Rodriguez said after Tuesday's practice. "It's one of those things where the coach puts you in. You have to make a play or mess up. I just go out there and try to compete and do my job."

Despite questions about his size - 5-11 and 230 pounds - the Lions drafted Rodriguez in the sixth round because of his production and aggressiveness at Oklahoma State.

Spielman, in his second year as a member of the Lions' front office, talked with Rodriguez about the stigma he would face when the two met for the first time.

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"He told me, 'You're not the biggest backer,'" Rodriguez recalled. "You're going to have to work. It's one of those things where you're going to have to outwork people.

"At the end of he day, the film's not going to lie. Just go out there, make plays and work your butt off.'"

Rodriguez had not heard of Spielman at the time. That's understandable. Spielman was drafted by the Lions in the second round in 1988 after a storied career at Ohio State. Spielman played eight seasons with the Lions and two more with the Bills before retiring.

Rodriguez got film of Spielman's career and was impressed with what he saw.

"I've seen his film," Rodriguez said. "That dude - he's a dog,"

Head coach Dan Campbell said the staff had already planned to move Rodriguez up in the pecking order before Monday's practice.

"It's just a little bit of a test to see what he can handle," Campbell said. "'I'll say this - he showed up yesterday. All of a sudden, we go first day of pads, guess who shows up? He's one of those guys.

"You see the competition in that room. You watch. Here he is. Let's give him a rep. There's already conversation. 'Let's push him up to the next group. Give him more reps.'"

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