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Killebrew feeling 'way more comfortable' in second year

What a big difference a year can make.

Last year, when safety Miles Killebrew stepped on the field in Allen Park as a rookie from small-school Southern Utah for his first OTA practices, his head was whirling.

"Way more comfortable out there, man," Killebrew said after Wednesday's OTA practice with a year under his belt. "I was just joking with Tavon that it feels like I can get better at specific things now and not everything at once. It's not everything I have to get better at."

View photos from Day 2 of Detroit Lions OTA practices.

Wednesday, during the team's second OTA practice of the spring, and the first one open to the media, Killebrew looked nothing like a player still trying to find his place. He knew where to be and was flying around with a nose for the football.

With veteran Glover Quin tending to a family obligation on Wednesday and not at practice, Killebrew got first-team reps alongside veteran Tavon Wilson all practice long. Killebrew should be in line for a bigger role in year two after showing he could be a playmaker in a limited role in defensive sub packages and on special teams last season.

"Coach has always preached that the next man has to be ready," Killebrew said of the extra reps Wednesday. "I feel like this is just an opportunity for me to practice that and to get ready for whatever I need to do moving forward.

"It's real exciting to be a part of this defense. This is an exciting time. It's a lot of fun for me to get out there with Tavon and I'm trying to take full advantage of the practice reps I'm given."

With a year under his belt, Killebrew's main focus this offseason was improving on his technique, advice he got from Quin after last season.

"One thing I learned from Glover is you can always get better at your technique," he said. "He's what, nine years in, and he's still trying to get better at his technique? That's one thing that I'm trying to take pride in is making sure I'm efficient and that I have no wasted steps."

There weren't a lot of wasted steps last season when Killebrew was given an opportunity to play on defense. He immediately showed to be a sure tackler, especially on third down, and finished with 28 tackles (23 solo) and an interception playing in just 16 percent of Detroit's defensive snaps.

One year later, Killebrew is hoping he gets to a point where he can push Wilson for the starting strong safety spot alongside Quin. He's looking forward to that competition he calls "competitive and not combative." And don't be mistaken, Killebrew plans to compete.

"That healthy energy is key," he said. "I don't think that I would be as good of a player as I am now, and as good of a player as I want to be, without that competition."

Killebrew says Quin and Wilson feel the exact same way, and have been great in the sense they're willing to be teachers, competitors and teammates all in one.

"GQ (Quin) is one of the best teachers I know that's also a player and yet he's not just going to lay down and let you beat him," Killebrew said.

"He is going to try and beat you every single time. That's one thing I respect about him."

Killebrew is big, fast and physical -- all the things that fit the strong safety position in this league. If Killebrew's technique improvements and scheme knowledge have caught up with his physical traits, it should be some competition to watch over the spring and summer.

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