Most of Detroit's top rookie draft picks sat out Saturday's preseason game vs. Jacksonville, a 25-7 defeat at the hands of the Jaguars.
But No. 18 overall pick, linebacker Jack Campbell, played into the second half and finished the game with seven tackles to lead the Lions' defense.
"I just felt like, man, 'Let's let him go a little bit,'" head coach Dan Campbell said of his decision to play Jack Campbell as much as he did Saturday.
"Let's let him play. His was just – speed of the game, picking it up, playing faster and we feel like the more he plays the more we're going to see it out of him."
Campbell played 25 reps in the preseason opener vs. the Giants last week and tied for the team lead with four tackles.
He's been steadily progressing through camp, and Dan Campbell said he's really happy with how that linebacker room is shaking out overall with Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Jack Campbell, Malcolm Rodriguez, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Anthony Pittman.
"Really love that room," he said. "Really like it a lot where it's going. We have a ton of confidence in all those guys. I feel like the room as a whole all bring something different and they all just continue to get better I feel like every day. I think that room, we have a lot of depth and versatility."
With only one preseason game left it still looks like an open competition for the starting MIKE linebacker role Week 1 next to Anzalone at the WILL. Campbell, Barnes and Rodriguez all seem very much in the mix.
HOUSTON STANDS OUT
After becoming the first player in NFL history to record eight sacks in his first seven career NFL games, the Lions challenged James Houston to expand his game and become a more complete player in his second season.
It's a challenge Houston has accepted as he continues to work into a backup role at the SAM linebacker spot behind starter Charles Harris. Houston showed Saturday that his all-around game is developing. He recorded a sack, four tackles for loss and six total tackles. He made some terrific plays in space and was overall one of Detroit's most productive defenders Saturday afternoon.
"I did feel like he showed up and did some good things today," Campbell said of Houston. "You could feel his presence out there, which was good."
View photos from the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Detroit Lions preseason Week 2 game at Ford Field on Saturday, Aug. 19 in Detroit, MI.
The plan was for veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to get only a few series in his preseason debut Saturday after signing with Detroit just last week, but the fact that there were four three-and-out series to start the game forced Campbell to play the veteran into the second quarter trying to get him into a rhythm, which turned out to be six series total.
Bridgewater finished 5-of-11 passing for 34 yards and a lost fumble, but Campbell said it wasn't all bad and felt Detroit's receivers didn't do Bridgewater any favors with some drops. Bridgewater only had three practices in this offense before Saturday's game, so the expectation is for him to look much more comfortable next week in Carolina for the preseason finale with another week of practice under his belt.
- Most of Detroit's starters had the afternoon off Saturday, and that included rookies Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta and Brian Branch. All three are expected to play big roles early on.
- Safeties Saivion Smith and Ifeatu Melifonwu left the game with injuries that Campbell said might linger through next week.