Defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand's growth over the course of his rookie season was one of the positive developments for the Detroit Lions last year.
Hand was Pro Football Focus' top graded rookie interior lineman, and finished 16th among all defensive lineman in PFF's final grades for the season.
He had 27 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles as part of a defensive line group that finished 10th among NFL teams in overall grading by PFF. He was a key component of the line, and ended up playing 57 percent of Detroit's defensive snaps last season.
It was a good rookie season for Hand, but he's expecting much more in year two.
There's an adjustment that needs to take place for all first-year players going from college to the pros. The football part of it is one thing, but there's also adjusting to a new city, new place to live, getting comfortable to new surroundings and teammates, and other factors people sometimes forget rookies have to navigate through in their first year in the league.
"I was just trying to gain my routine," Hand said of his rookie season. "Learning my way around the building."
Hand is now settling into his routine. He bought a house and is much more comfortable with his surroundings and his role on the Lions' defense. It's all about football now for Hand, and that could mean good things for Detroit's defensive front.
"Now ... I can kind of just hone in on my craft," he said.
Hand is expected to be an important piece of a defensive front that finished 10th in the NFL in run defense last season. Detroit returns Damon Harrison Sr., A'Shawn Robinson and Romeo Okwara from last year's unit, and added the top defensive lineman on the free-agent market this offseason in Trey Flowers.
"It's a great addition," Hand said of Flowers. "He's an amazing player. I can't wait."
Hand missed the last two games last year due to a knee injury, but says he's 100 percent for the offseason training program.
Detroit's defensive front is expected to be one of the real strengths for this team in 2019, and Hand is likely to play a key role in that.