Devon Kennard was general manager Bob Quinn's biggest free-agent addition this offseason as he looked to add size, toughness and versatility to the linebacker position.
Quinn and the Lions got to see Kennard in pads for the first time in Rocket Mortgage training camp on Wednesday after he was removed from the non-football injury list that prevented him from participating in the first four practices of camp.
"It felt good being out there with my teammates," Kennard said after practice. "Putting some shoulder pads on again and everything and having fun out there. It was exciting."
Kennard was limited in his return to the practice field. He didn't take part in team drills, but did go through individual work. It's likely his activities will ramp up moving forward barring any setbacks.
Kennard is expected to be an important hybrid player in the new-look Lions' defense for 2018. He had four sacks in 15 games for the Giants last season, but could be used more as a pass rusher in Detroit.
Kennard (6-4, 256) can also play the SAM linebacker position off the ball, so he's a multipurpose weapon on defense.
There's a learning curve that comes with switching from the Giants' 4-3 scheme Kennard played in his first four years in the league to more of a multiple-front defense like the Lions are installing. This defense has a lot of moving parts, and there's only so much a player can glean from mental reps. Jumping into the mix and running through the calls in live team periods is how Kennard is going to get a true feel for his role in this defense.
"It's still see ball, get ball," he said. "But how we go about things is just different. My role is different as well. It's a different defense. I'm asked to do a lot of different things. Sometimes I'm rushing, sometimes I'm not. I have to do a little bit of everything.
"It's things I've done in the past, but it's just a different defense and I'm excited to be a part of it."
Kennard doesn't think it will take too long to get fully back up to speed. He said he's eager to fully join a defense he believes is starting to come together and make fewer and fewer mistakes every practice they get under their belt.