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NOTEBOOK: LB Jack Campbell learning from mistakes in rookie season

There is no one harder on Detroit Lions rookie linebacker Jack Campbell when mistakes are made or a standard isn't met than Campbell himself. Some would call him a perfectionist. But if there's one thing that's certain in the NFL, it's that no one is perfect, especially a rookie.

The Lions are asking their first-round pick to do a lot including playing some SAM linebacker and be an on-the-ball rusher, things he never did or did very little of in college at Iowa. Campbell is all about getting on the field and contributing in any way he can, but with anything new there's usually an acclimation period and a learning curve that comes with it, and Campbell is going through that.

"Man, we all love that player to death because every little thing matters to him and every mistake, he takes it to heart, and you really try to get that player to get on to the next play because he cares so much," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said Friday of Campbell.

"There are some things in (last week's) game where he made mistakes at and the good thing is, man, you're in the NFL and these things are going to happen to you, but you have to understand things beforehand and what does the picture tell you before, so you can allow yourself not to get yourself in those situations."

Baltimore threw a lot of eye candy at Detroit's defense and there were a couple times Campbell lost contain and got sucked inside. Those are things he has to go through, see for himself and learn from. He'll be better for it.

"Every rep that he takes out there on the field, man a great learning experience for him," Glenn said. "And I try to tell him listen, 'Yes, you can look at it as a failure, but you also have to look at it as a way to learn on what not to do.' So – like that player has to play as much as possible, because he's a damn good player."

Campbell admits he's really hard on himself but it's because the standard is high, which isn't a bad thing. He took a message offensive coordinator Ben Johnson gave to the team in training camp to heart when Johnson said the young players were going to drive this team this season.

"I am hard on myself but that's just who I am," Campbell said. "It's the standard that I have set for myself. I just feel like whenever the day comes when my football career ends, I want to make sure I look in the rearview mirror and I can say I gave it all I had."

At the same time, he admits that he has to find that line where he gives himself a little grace and understands he's a young player that still has a lot to learn at this level.

"If you come in here and don't have a sense of urgency or I feel like if you're not wanting to get better and you're just accepting some stuff then I don't think it's going to work out," Campbell said. "It's a fine line. And every day I'm working on it."


It wasn't a great performance for Detroit's defense last week in Baltimore but second-year safety Kerby Joseph was a bright spot. He led the team with 10 tackles. But Joseph, who paced Detroit with four interceptions as a rookie last year, said Friday he never considers himself having a good game unless he impacts the football.

"To be honest, I don't feel like I have a good game unless I have a pick," Joseph said Friday. "Unless I get a turnover or am around the ball. Me personally, if I don't do something to touch the ball or cause something going on I don't feel like I had a good game."

Joseph said safeties are supposed to make tackles and be the last line of defense, but the greats get their hands on the ball.

"I want to be great, so I have to get the ball," he said.

View photos from the Detroit Lions practice on Friday, October 27, 2023.


Lions quarterback Jared Goff has targeted second-year wide receiver Jameson Williams 12 times in three games and has connected on four of those for 55 yards and a touchdown. Williams was targeted six times last week with no receptions.

Johnson was asked about the disconnect last week in particular between the targets and production from Williams.

"Time on task still," he said. "I know it's beating a dead horse by saying that, but some guys take longer than others to develop a rapport with. We frankly aren't there yet. So, we'll continue to work on it and it's going to come and when it does come, I think we're all going to be pleased."

Johnson said it's just a matter of repetition, time and time again. Johnson is confident we'll continue to see improvement the more reps Williams gets. That also includes the deep shots where Williams can be one of the most explosive players in the league because of his speed.

"Throwing the ball down the field to him is completely different than anybody else that we have on this roster," Johnson said.


Goff is looking forward to getting back into the friendly confines of Ford Field after a two-game road stretch in Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

"Yeah, it's nice to get in front of the fans," he said. "You've had this one circled for a while, the Monday nighter in front of the home crowd and should be rocking. It'll be my first home night game. It'll be fun."

Goff has been terrific at Ford Field this season. He's completing 73 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns, two interceptions and a 113.2 passer rating in three games at Ford Field. The Lions are 2-1 at home this season.


Veteran defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson surprised teammates by showing up to the team practice facility in Allen Park Friday. Gardner-Johnson tore his pectoral muscle Week 2 and underwent surgery.

Cornerback Jerry Jacobs said it was great to see Gardner-Johnson back in the building and listen to him talk about coming back at some point this season.

Joseph said Gardner-Johnson looked great and even did a pushup in front of him.

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