Detroit Lions Training Camp: Dan Campbell names 3 ‘pleasant surprises'
The 2023 Detroit Lions training camp has seen a handful of players leave an indelible mark on the field, but three have managed to catch the special attention of head coach Dan Campbell. The trio, namely defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu, linebacker Derrick Barnes, and defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike, have, in various ways, shown potential that Campbell believes can be instrumental for the Lions' defense in the forthcoming season.
“And that’s Iffy, Barnes and Levi,” Dan Campbell said Thursday on 97.1 The Ticket.
“They are all three pleasant surprises, and for different reasons,” Campbell said. “Two of them because, man, they’re able to say healthy, they’re out there, they’re banking reps.”
What Else Did Campbell Say?
Campbell specifically spoke further about Onwuzurike and Barnes.
“It’s been good seeing Levi just play football,” Lions defensive line coach John Scott said Wednesday. “How hard he worked in the offseason, how hard he’s worked in camp, it was great to see him play in the preseason game and make some flash plays like he’s been doing in practice. We’re excited about what he’s showing as he’s progressing along.”
“Barnes, it just really feels like the light’s coming on,” Campbell said. “He’s playing as fast as I’ve seen in three years. So, those three guys are really catching our eye.”
Why it Matters
While Melifonwu's past two seasons have been riddled with injuries and underperformance, his active participation and improved fitness levels during this camp suggest a strong intent for redemption. Onwuzurike, on the other hand, has showcased immense promise, bouncing back from a season lost to a back injury. His standout performances, both in the training camp and Detroit's preseason opener, point towards a potential breakthrough season for the lineman. Barnes, having already showcased his defensive prowess in 2022, continues to shine, giving first-round rookie Jack Campbell a run for his money for the starting linebacker position.
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Ifeatu Melifonwu, previously plagued by injuries, showcases a renewed commitment and form in the current training camp, hinting at a potential comeback season.
- Levi Onwuzurike, bouncing back from a year-long injury hiatus, stands out in both training sessions and the preseason opener, hinting at a breakthrough season ahead.
- Derrick Barnes continues his strong defensive showing from last season, challenging Jack Campbell fiercely for the starting linebacker spot and consistently impressing coaches during the camp.
Bottom Line – A Renewed Defensive Front for Lions?
As the sun begins to set on another training camp, the Detroit Lions appear to have found new vigor in their defensive ranks. While every camp has its stars, Melifonwu, Onwuzurike, and Barnes aren't just fleeting camp wonders. They seem poised to redefine the Lions' defense, bringing in a mix of raw energy, skill, and determination. As they gear up for the second preseason game against the Jags, all eyes, including the eyes of Dan Campbell, will be on this trio.