Linebackers Devon Kennard and Christian Jones didn’t share with the media exactly what role they’ll have in Detroit’s defense after agreeing to free agent deals on Thursday, but the veteran pair did express their excitement in joining a football team led by Matt Patricia.
The new Lions head coach is expected to build a tough, fundamentally sound and versatile defense here in Detroit. Those were the key features of his defenses in New England that ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense the past six years.
"I'm excited to play for Coach Patricia," Kennard said. "I’ve obviously watched what he’s done in New England for a long time and always had admiration for the style of defense that he has and the type of players he develops and things like that, so I’m excited for the opportunity and I have a great first impression. Great guy, great energy and he has the right mentality so I’m excited."
Kennard seems to be the type of player who could fit in well and succeed in Patricia’s defense. He’s played off the ball in New York, and was also a pass rusher and blitzer.
Kennard has been the Giants' starting strong side linebacker for most of his four-year career. He’s appeared in 52 career games (35 starts), recording 203 tackles (136 solo), 9.5 sacks, eight passes defended and one interception.
Jones, too, is excited about the potential development of his game playing for Patricia in Detroit’s defense. Jones made 11 starts for the Bears last season, and ended the year with a career-high 84 tackles (57 solo) with two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
“He seems like a real hype, energetic guy,” Jones said of Patricia. “Fun to work with. We all know what he’s done in the past with New England, so that’s something that excites me and the all the other guys who signed.
“We’re just ready to get back to work and see what coach has in store for us and hopefully we can come together and be able to do some special things.”
There are some unknowns regarding what exactly Detroit’s defense will look like this season, and which pieces will fit where, but Patricia certainly brings with him a terrific resume coaching defensive football, and the newest Lions can’t wait to see how it might all fit together.