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New DL coach earning rave reviews from Campbell, Glenn

Now into the third phase of the offseason training program, new Lions run game coordinator and defensive line coach Terrell Williams is already earning glowing reviews from his fellow coaches on Detroit's staff.

"I think he's the best D-line coach in the league," head coach Dan Campbell said last week of Williams. "And if he's not you can argue what place he is."

Williams joined Campbell's staff this offseason for his 27th season in coaching and 13th in the NFL. Over the last six seasons as the Tennessee Titans defensive line coach – he added assistant head coach to his title with the Titans in 2023 – he developed Tennessee into one of the most consistently good defensive fronts in football.

In Detroit, Williams inherits a Pro Bowl edge rusher in Aidan Hutchinson and established veterans like Alim McNeill, DJ Reader and Marcus Davenport, but the Lions are also hoping he can maximize the talents of some of their younger players like Brodric Martin, Mekhi Wingo and James Houston, elevating their play and therefore Detroit's defensive line group as a whole.

Detroit was one of the best run-stopping defenses in the NFL last season, only allowing 100-or-more rushing yards in five games, and finishing with the second fewest rushing yards allowed in the league.

The Lions ranked sixth in total pressures and second in quarterback hits, but they relied pretty heavily on the blitz to generate pressure, especially late in the season, and their 41 sacks ranked 23rd in the NFL last year.

"The technique, the way he goes about coaching, he's very confident in his intelligence about the position," defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of Williams. "I've been around a couple good ones. Ryan Nielson, who is actually the coordinator in Jacksonville, I've been around him for a while and they are comparable as far as knowledge as far as defense. And (Williams) believes exactly what I believe in when it comes to D-line play, so that's a good thing."

To consistently have a good pass rush, you also need good coverage in the back end of the defense. Detroit believes they improved significantly in the cover portion of that equation with the additions they made in the offseason at the cornerback position.

If Williams can nurture the same kind of consistency and development he showed with the Titans and throughout his coaching career, Detroit could take a big step forward from being the 27th ranked pass defense in the NFL and overall be a much more consistent unit.

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