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Camp Spotlight: Linebacker Jahlani Tavai


Position: Linebacker

Ht/Wt: 6-2, 250

College: Hawaii

Experience: Rookie

Outlook: Detroit's second-round pick this past spring, Tavai has jumped right in with the first-team defense playing as both an inside and outside linebacker. Tavai is big and strong, and fits the mold of the type of player GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia are trying to add to the linebacker room.

He was a first-team All-Mountain West pick in 2016, starting all 14 games and leading the conference with 19.5 tackles for loss, 129 total tackles and seven sacks. He ranked 10th in the FBS with 124 tackles, and led Hawaii with 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks as a junior in 2017.

Tavai missed the opening game this past season due to a suspension, and missed the final four games due to a shoulder injury, but still finished with 82 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick in eight starts.

If his usage early on in camp is any indication on how the Lions will use him this year, I expect Tavai to be a chess piece in this defense with a significant role.

View photos of linebacker Jahlani Tavai from Day 4 of Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage.

Practice report: Tavai is a pretty busy guy throughout the course of practice, as there aren't many down periods for the rookie.

There was one part of practice where he was hustling between 7-on-7 drills on one field to a pass rush drill on the other field. He takes part in special teams periods as well.

Tavai has been touted as a versatile player, and we saw that during one particular team period Sunday. The first play of the period he was a standup edge rusher. The very next play he was an inside linebacker.

In that same period, he made a nice play where he moved down the line pretty well and met running back Zach Zenner in the hole for little to no gain on the play.

Tavai looks pretty natural playing in space in the passing game, and has pretty good instincts for that part of the game.

In one-on-one pass rushing drills, Tavai beat offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby pretty easily, dipping under Crosby on the outside and using his speed to blow by him.

Quotable: "Right now all of us as a unit are trying to build trust within our defense because the biggest thing is we've gotta have trust within the 11 guys on the field," Tavai said. "We have great leaders on the defense throughout the d-line and all the way to the safeties. It's been a great opportunity to learn little bits and details from each one. It's not just been a great opportunity for myself, but for any of the up and coming defensive rookies."

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