Levy Turns in Solid First Performance

Posted Sep 27, 2009

Larry Foote won't let DeAndre Levy forget that he's a rookie.

But when Levy isn't within earshot of his veteran teammate, Foote can't hold back his admiration for the Lions' third-round draft pick out of Wisconsin.

Levy got his first NFL start Sunday, filling in for the injured Ernie Sims in Detroit's 19-14 victory against Washington, and had a hand in six tackles, second on the Lions to Foote's nine.

"He made a lot of plays today," Foote said. "He's a good football player. I tell people that whoever pulled the trigger on him, made a good choice.

"He's tough. He can hit. You saw that (tackle) he made on (Ladell) Betts in the open field. You can't coach hitting. The combine doesn't show who hits the hardest. He's going to play a long time in this league with that kind of explosion and tackling."

As much as Foote likes Levy, he can't resist getting a veteran's dig at him.

"He's still a rookie, and they're all dumb," Foote said with a smile. "But I tell him he's less dumb than the average rookie, and that's why he got the start."

Levy laughed when Foote's words were relayed to him.

"That's him. He jokes around a lot," Levy said. "That's a good compliment coming from him."

Foote is in his eighth NFL season and has a pair of Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, so Levy tries to pick his brain at every opportunity.

"He's been a tremendous help in the meeting room and on the field," Levy said. "Even during a game. I look at this as an opportunity to learn from a great player and he's done nothing but help me develop and learn the ins and outs of playing in the NFL. It's one thing coming from a coach and another coming from a player who's played in a defense like this."

Levy hopes someday to develop the vision that Foote brings to the field.

"He has great eyes," Levy said. "That's one of the things I've learned from him in the meeting room. He sees things a lot quicker than most of the other players on the field. That comes with experience and it's something I want to develop."

It didn't take Levy long to show that he belonged on the field in Sunday's game.

On Washington's first possession, the Redskins drove from their 24-yard line  and an 18-yard pass from Jason Campbell to Malcom Kelly gave Washington a first down just inside the Detroit 10.

Campbell's first-down pass was incomplete. On second down,  Levy stopped Betts for a two-yard game. On third down, Levy shoved Clinton Portis out of bounds at the one. The Redskins went for the touchdown on fourth down and Levy and Foote teamed up to stop Portis short of the goal line.

"When you're that close to the goal line, you get kind of antsy and want to make a play," Levy said. "I've been in on the goal line package and a couple of the reps that I got, we gave up touchdowns the last two games. Today I was of the mindset of, 'let's make something happen. We don't want this to happen again where we give up a touchdown. They got down this far, but the only thing that matters is points, so let's keep them off the board.'"

Later, Levy made a jarring hit on Betts in the open field.

"The coaches put that on us big this week," Levy said. "Last week we missed some tackles by taking the wrong angles and (Minnesota) got a lot of yards after the catch. I wanted to keep that in mind and get a little collision."

Collisions like that are what makes the game fun for the 6-foot-2, 238-pound Levy.

"That's the best part -- hitting," Levy said. "I like to have one good collision a game, whether it's on a (special teams) block or a tackle. That's the most fun in football."

Levy admitted he was a little anxious before the game, but once he stepped on the field, it was business as usual.

"Before the game, I was thinking, 'it's my first NFL start,' but once you step on the field, it's just football," Levy said. "I've been playing football for a long time, so when we started I was kind of relaxed. I felt comfortable."

Levy wasn't a part of most of the 19-game losing streak the Lions snapped on Sunday, but he felt happy for his teammates who were on the team in 2008.

"It means a lot to the guys who were around here last year," Levy said. "You could feel the energy toward the end. It felt good for them to get that first win."

Levy also enjoyed sharing the victory with the fans who stayed after the game to celebrate a bit.

"That was a good experience, too," he said. "The first thing Coach (Jim Schwartz) said was, 'they've been loyal to us. Let's share this with them.' It's a good feeling, but we can't get content with this one."

Foote expects Levy to be a part of many more Lions victories, and he's going to help him as much as he can.

"I'm going to slip him some of those golden nuggets," Foote said. "Like the older guys passed their knowledge to me, I'm going to pass it to him. He's not that far off from being a good player in this league -- and one day, he's going to be a star."