Every player has things they want to improve on from one season to the next. For rookie defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand, the biggest focus this offseason will be on his speed.
“I’m ready for (the offseason),” Hand said earlier this week. “I’m ready to take it head on and do my thing. I really just want to be fast. Blazing speed. I’m trying to be one of the fasted d-linemen in the league.”
Hand was graded the top interior rookie defensive lineman by Pro Football Focus this year, but because of his versatility, he played both inside and outside for the Lions. The Lions listed him as a defensive lineman on their roster, as opposed to a defensive tackle or defensive end.
The fourth-round pick out of Alabama had a productive first season with 27 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in 13 games. He missed the final three games of the season due to a knee injury that he said won’t limit him in the offseason.
Hand (6-3, 297) played outside in some even fronts this season, and can line up in just about any technique head coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni want him to. He is up to playing any role the Lions ask of him, and veteran defensive tackle Damon Harrison says Hand can do that because of the way he works.
“He just takes coaching really well,” Harrison said of Hand. “He’s not a guy that thinks he has it all figured out. He’s trying to improve. He asks everybody questions, from me to Ricky (Jean Francois) and even John (Atkins). He’ll be a good player in this league for a long time.”
Hand admits there’s a lot of room for improvement in his game, and plans to address it this offseason, making sure he comes back in year two a much better player. He also wants to improve his strength, hand placement and hand technique.
“I’m going to get in shape as best as I can and be in the best shape of my life,” he said. “Be healthy, eat better and then be ready to play whatever.”