Laken Tomlinson focusing on learning playbook

Posted Jun 3, 2015

First-round draft pick Laken Tomlinson is making himself very familiar with the Lions' extensive playbook.

What is the hardest thing about playing on the offensive line as a rookie in the NFL?

Is it making the calls? Learning the protections? Trying to stay in front of some of the best athletes in the world?

Laken TomlinsonG Laken Tomlinson (Photo: Detroit Lions)

“It’s the playbook,” Detroit Lions first-round draft pick Laken Tomlinson said. “You have to dig into the playbook and be able to process things quickly and then go out there and pretty much put it out on the field.”

Tomlinson found out rather quickly that the Lions’ playbook is much more extensive than the one he played under at Duke the last four years.

“I mean, I love to study, so I’m always in the playbook,” he said. “It’s a big playbook, but I’m in the playbook. I try to download plays as quickly as I can and (then) be able to put it out there on the field.”

During the OTA portion of the offseason, comprehension of NFL schemes and concepts, along with the knowledge of the playbook, is usually the biggest difference between veteran players and rookies. It’s usually why veterans will get reps over rookies this time of year.

Tomlinson is a smart guy (two bachelor degrees from Duke), but even he’s still waiting for the game to slow down for him.

“My main focus right now is to show these coaches that I understand the playbook and I can go out there and execute at a high level,” he said. “Once you get the playbook (down) everything becomes slower for you, so you’re able to execute at a high level.”

Fellow guard Larry Warford went through the same things a couple years ago after being selected by Detroit in the third round of the 2013 draft. At the time, Warford said he was “weak mentally” during his rookie OTAs and admitted that his head was spinning.

"A lot of that in the beginning had to do with how much I knew the offense,” Warford said in August of 2013 after having a few months to process the playbook. "I know the offense a load better than I did when we first started. That slowed me down when I didn’t know it.”

Like it did for Warford, the game will eventually slow down for Tomlinson.

“I’m just trying to go out there and do what I can do best,” Tomlinson said after a recent OTA practice. “Just be my best self. It’s a big jump in competition, but like I said, I’m just going out there to be my best self.”