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Jean Francois: 'I feel like I didn't learn football until I ran into (Patricia)'

Ever since Ricky Jean Francois first met Matt Patricia, starting in New England last year when Patricia was the defensive coordinator and Jean Francois signed in November to help the Patriots' defensive front, the two have started a ritual they do every new work week.

They sit down early in the week in a one-on-one session to pick each other's brain on the next opponent.

"I come in Monday morning and see him and I'm going to sit down with him and we're going to talk and we're going to learn everything about this team together, and I've been doing that since I've been in New England," Jean Francois said.

"We sit down and put our notes together. Let me see what he got, what he thinks. I'm going to tell him what I think. We put it together and go from there."

It's a meeting of the minds, if you will, that Patricia first eluded to last Friday night when asked about Jean Francois and his six-tackle performance in Detroit's 33-30 win over the Bucs in the third preseason game.

"He's a student of the game," Patricia said of Jean Francois. "He really understands football. He works extremely hard at it. He's a guy that will be in my office in the beginning of the week, and tomorrow I'm sure trying to look at the next opponent and say, 'Hey, what do we have to study here, what do we have to look at there, what can I help get conveyed to the defense, what can I convey to the team as far as what we have to do.'"

Jean Francois is a 10-year veteran with 121 games and 37 NFL starts under his belt, but had probably the biggest compliment a player could give a coach when asked Monday about what he gets out of those early-week meetings with Patricia.

"The crazy thing is I've been in the league for 10 years and I feel like I didn't learn football until I ran into (Patricia)," he said. "It's crazy. Until I ran into him and (Bill) Belichick, that's when I really figured out football. When I really sat down with Matt Patricia and you hear him tell you about everything, you'll be like, 'I'm really learning football.'"

Jean Francois says Patricia's knowledge of technique and fundamentals is what impresses him the most. When he leaves those one-on-one weekly sessions he feels "over prepared" for the coming week's opponent.

"I can't go a week not sitting in his office and not talking to him," Jean Francois said.

True to form, Jean Francois and Patricia have already had their chat about the Browns, who the Lions play Thursday at Ford Field. That took place Sunday.

Jean Francois has adopted a mentor role to young players like rookie defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand, and he's quick to share any information he gains in those sessions with Patricia with his teammates.

He's been one of Detroit's most consistent performers in the preseason, and if the preseason is any indication, he'll likely play a big role upfront for the Lions' defense this season.

He credits Patricia and those early-week prep sessions with playing a big role in that.

View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Aug. 27, 2018.

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