For the first time since training camp began in late July, defensive end Trey Flowers and defensive tackles Damon Harrison Sr. and Mike Daniels have been on the practice field together for the Detroit Lions this week.
Those three players are expected to be featured on a very talented and deep defensive front along with A’Shawn Robinson, Da'Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara.
After the Lions acquired Harrison via trade midway through last season, the Lions held opponents to under 65 rushing yards in five games, which tied for the NFL high. The team only allowed 3.76 yards per rush, the second lowest in the NFC in that span and only 925 total rushing yards, the fourth fewest in the NFC in that span.
Add Flowers, the top edge rusher available in free agency, and Daniels, who was a Pro Bowler in 2017 when he had 49 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks and a forced fumble in 14 games, to that mix, and it's no wonder the optimism is high in Detroit.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019.
Flowers and Daniels were rehabbing injuries to begin training camp, and Harrison was on the non-football injury list. Flowers returned to practice right before the Lions' trip to Houston, Harrison was removed from NFI in Houston, and Daniels returned to practice this week.
"It feels great," Daniels said of being back on the football field after rehabbing a foot injury. "It feels really good and I'm super excited. I'm really enjoying everything around here."
With only a little more than two weeks remaining before the start of the regular season, getting to know each other and how they play together is a top priority.
"It's definitely important to have chemistry and understand each other when you're out there playing," Flowers said. "Knowing how each other plays and if you're going to play off them, if you have a bigger guy inside or a smaller, quicker guy inside. Just knowing that and understanding how each other plays is definitely important."
Flowers said it's been good this week having all three players back on the practice field. He says they're heading in the right direction. Daniels said the chemistry upfront among all the defensive linemen has been good.
"It's really nice to get out there with the guys and the more you play together the better you get to understand everybody and know who you're playing with and build that chemistry," Daniels said. "Everybody has the right attitude around here and I don't foresee chemistry being an issue. I think we can just step out there together because of how everyone already gets along personally. We just all have similar mentality. Everyone wants to get better every day."
MIKE linebacker Jarrad Davis, who stands to benefit playing behind those big guys upfront, is happy to see them back.
"It's going to free me up to do so many things," Davis said. "It's just going to be so hard for offenses to really block all three of those guys."
Whether or not we see the trio on the field together Friday for the team's third preseason game is yet to be determined, but the fact that they are back on the practice field and trending in the right direction to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season is really good news for Detroit's defense.