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Camp Spotlight: Linebacker Devon Kennard


Position: Linebacker

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 256

College: USC

Experience: Fifth season

View photos of linebacker Devon Kennard from Day 12 of 2018 Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage.

Outlook: Kennard was sought after and signed via free agency to fill a role in Matt Patricia's defense. He was both a pass rusher and off-the-ball SAM linebacker his first four seasons with the New York Giants, which made him a perfect fit for a similar role in Detroit.

He's coming off a 2017 season in which he recorded 41 tackles and four sacks in 15 games. He's had a 61-tackle season (2016) and a 4.5 sack season (2014) in his first four years in the league.

The Lions plan to be multiple on defense, and for that to really work they need some versatile guys on that side of the ball. Kennard's ability to both rush the passer and play off the line in a more traditional linebacker role is a big plus for this defense.

Kennard played 12 snaps in his preseason debut Friday night in Oakland, rushing the passer six times, playing the run five times and dropping into coverage once.

I expect Kennard to be used a lot as a pass rusher, at least that's been a huge part of his role throughout training camp.

Practice report: Kennard is a pretty busy man throughout the course of a two and a half hour practice. He splits most of his time between linebacker and defensive line/pass rushing drills during individual and position periods. For instance, Kennard was on the other field working with Freddie Bishop, Christian Jones and Alex Barrett on pass-rush moves when the other linebackers were going through individual work.

When the linebackers were doing one-on-one coverage drills with the running backs, Kennard was over with the edge rushers, tight ends and running backs working through some edge run blocking drills.

During a special teams period later in practice, Kennard, Jarrad Davis and Jones were working one-on-one with linebackers coach Al Golden and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni on technique and hand placement when rushing.

Players were in shorts, shells and helmets Monday ahead of Tuesday's joint practice with the New York Giants.

Practice was a little lighter not being in full pads, but Kennard still got some good work in going against right tackle Rick Wagner in team drills. Kennard put a terrific swim move on Wagner in one rep that would have led to a sack of quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Quotable: "I'm asked to do a lot of different things," Kennard said of his role in this defense. "Sometimes I'm rushing, sometimes I'm not. I have to do a little bit of everything and it's things I've done in the past. It's a different defense and I'm excited to be a part of it."

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