Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson leads all NFL rookies in sacks (4.5), pressures (14) and quarterback hits (9) at the midpoint of the season.
The No. 2 overall pick is now eight games into his NFL career, which is a good sample size to get a gauge on how he thinks he's evolved as a rusher through the first two months of being a professional.
"I think things have really started to slow down," Hutchinson said Thursday. "Even in how I game plan and how I see things. Definitely, things have gotten simpler in my head. Talk about my progression, definitely I'm in an upward trend."
Every rush, every pressure and every mistake is a growing experience for Detroit's young pass rusher.
Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said it was Hutchinson who lost contain on Aaron Rodgers' 18-yard scramble on 3rd and 17 last week. But Glenn also said it's unlikely we see the same mistake from Hutchinson in that situation again, and that's been part of Hutchinson's growth.
"Aidan made a mistake on that one, but there aren't too many times when he makes the same mistake," Glenn said.
"That's an attribute he has. No one coached him on that. That's just what he's good at doing. But his pass rush on the edge, we're starting to put him on the interior quite a bit ... you'll start to see that."
Hutchinson is gaining more and more confidence every week.
He'll play an important role this week trying to push the pocket and keep Chicago's Justin Fields from breaking contain and making plays with his legs. It's a disciplined game plan Glenn has created to counter Fields and his playmaking ability. The Lions will need Hutchinson to play his role and continue to be a playmaker, like we saw last week in the win vs. Green Bay when Hutchinson recorded his first career interception.
Second-year cornerback Jerry Jacobs played a big role in the Lions' 15-9 win over the Packers last week. Jacobs played his heaviest load of snaps on defense since suffering a torn ACL last December. He finished the game with three solo tackles, a tackle for loss and a critical pass defended late. The Packers threw at Jacobs four times in the contest and completed none of them.
Jacobs is one of the most competitive players on the Lions roster, and he brings a ton of energy to the field. He was even spotted jawing with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at one point in the game.
"God made him that way. That's just who he is as a person," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of Jacobs' demeanor. "I think it's a really good trait to have as a corner.
"Regardless of what happens with that player, if he gets beat, if he makes a play, he has the same demeanor. He's going to get up in your face and he's going to challenge you. It's always good to have a guy like that on your defense because he builds up the morale of everyone else."
With wide receiver Josh Reynolds missing a second consecutive day of practice Thursday due to a back injury, the Lions could lean on the recently acquired Trinity Benson to give them some snaps on the outside Sunday.
"Yeah, he gives us a little shot in the arm," quarterback Jared Goff said of Benson this week. "He's a guy that knows the offense and has good speed and can spell some of those guys at times when we need it. And a guy that I've had a lot of reps with, so there's a trust factor there already built a little bit and I know he'll be active this week and we'll see how much he gets in there."
The Lions signed Benson off Denver's practice squad this week.
Benson spent the 2021 season in Detroit after the Lions traded for him with the Broncos following training camp. He appeared in eight games and caught 10 passes for 103 yards. He was released with an injury settlement at the end of training camp in Detroit this season.
Sunday marks the third time brothers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Equanimeous St. Brown will face each other in the NFL.
Equanimeous played for the Green Bay Packers from 2018-2021 and is now with the Chicago Bears.