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Campbell seals deal with Cominsky: 'I'm dying to have you here'

After signing a two-year contract extension with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, John Cominsky wore a shirt that read "1 year of focus and hustle can change your life forever" to his press conference.

The veteran defensive lineman couldn't have picked a better phrase to describe his past year.

"My agent gave me this shirt about a year ago today," Cominsky said. "It was a mindset thing. I like that. I put it on, and I thought I had a little extra edge working out, a little extra edge when I was walking around. I said I need about 10 more of those because I'm going to wear them all year long.

"Here we are full circle signing a contract that's going to change my life and it's true. It's a testimonial to anyone that they can just put their head down for 365 days and know their life can change."

It's certainly changed for Cominsky over the course of the last year.

View photos of Detroit Lions defensive lineman John Cominsky.

He was released by Atlanta last May after his role was reduced and he was relegated to playing in just four games in 2021. The Lions beat out seven other teams trying to claim Cominsky, and he entered training camp last July just trying to make the team and earn a role.

He did much more than that. Cominsky became a key cog and glue player upfront for Detroit, setting career highs with 30 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 12 quarterback hits and five tackles for loss, despite missing three games and being severely limited in two others because of a broken thumb. He played 12 of his 14 games last season with a club on his right hand due to that broken thumb suffered Week 2. He joked at the press conference he was looking forward to playing football with two hands again. The Lions were 9-3 with Cominsky fully in the lineup and 0-5 without him or when he was limited because of the injury.

There were several teams that were interested in signing him in free agency, per Cominsky, but he was 99.9 percent certain he was coming back to Detroit when the free-agent process began.

That 99.9 percent ticked up to 100 percent when he received a text from head coach Dan Campbell that said: "I'm dying to have you here."

"I told my wife I'm going to Detroit," Cominsky said after receiving that text. "That's the leader around here and when he sends you a text like that it's like, 'OK, this organization wants me back for sure.'"

Cominsky loves the coaching staff and the family atmosphere Campbell and his staff have built. He said they come to work but it doesn't feel like a business, but rather a family, and that's what he wanted to be a part of.

Not only was Cominsky a playmaker for Detroit's defense this past season, but he also did a lot of the dirty work that allowed others to make plays. Aidan Hutchinson can thank Cominsky for teeing up a number of sacks for him by taking on double teams or freeing him up when the two stunted upfront.

"When we lost him for that period of time, it did affect us because there's a lot of things that he does that go unseen from the outside," Campbell said of Cominsky. "I think there's a number of things when it comes to our stunt games and setting up our rush patterns that he is kind of our point guy on a little bit if you will.

"He's highly intelligent, certainly he's high motor, he is aggressive, but I think he's just – he's a little bit of that glue for those guys up front. And so, he's very important. He plays the run, I mean he's as good as anybody we've got setting an edge in the run game. He's kind of a vital part of what we are up front defensively."

Cominsky interrupted a family vacation in Florida to take a day trip to Detroit to sign his contract and do some media appearances. He joked after his press conference that the real vacation can begin now that the stress of free agency is over.

In just a few weeks Cominsky and the rest of his teammates will report back to Detroit for the start of the offseason training program, and he can't wait to be a big part of Detroit's plans on defense and continue to be a mentor to the young guys in the defensive line room.

What a difference a year makes.

"I'm excited," he said. "We got a lot of the same guys back, a lot of the front seven, core guys back. I know we picked up a couple corners and I heard they are good ball players and they are tough guys and that's all we need – football players. I'm excited about that."

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