Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said fans can expect to see all four of Detroit's top linebackers play on defense Thursday night in Kansas City.
Veteran Alex Anzalone will start at the WILL, veteran Derrick Barnes most likely will start at the MIKE, but rookie Jack Campbell is also expected to see his fair share of snaps in the middle of the Lions' defense at the MIKE too.
Glenn said he's been impressed so far with the way the rookie Campbell has picked up the defense. Campbell was a tackle machine in the preseason. He's going to get an opportunity to make an early impact.
"Big, strong, physical, blue-collar, hard worker easily can pick a defense up, which he's already done, and he fits who we are to a T," Glenn said of Campbell Saturday.
Campbell told detroitlions.com Saturday the competition at linebacker throughout camp made everyone better, and he appreciated the veterans helping him along the way. He's admittedly taken huge steps since first getting here and says he's ready to make an immediate impact Thursday against the Chiefs.
"I came in and I felt like maybe I was pressing a little bit early on," Campbell said. "But right now, I'm just trying to settle down. My personality type I like to make sure everything is perfect. I just need to understand that mistakes are going to happen and as long as I'm playing fast everything is going to work out.
"All the other LBs have been pushing me to be my best and I hope that I'm pushing them to be their best, too. Whoever is out there is going to be competing at a high level and I'm just excited to see what that room can bring to this team."
EXCITED FOR ARROWHEAD
Quarterback Jared Goff said Friday he's never played at GEHA Field at Arrowhead in Kansas City and is excited to check that one off his list.
"Yeah, this is the only stadium I haven't been to, so it'll be fun," Goff said. "I've heard it's loud. I know it's loud and we'll be ready for it."
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson called it one of the top five NFL stadiums.
"I think everybody's been embracing this opportunity for some time now. It'll certainly be for the guys who have never been to Arrowhead, it's a unique experience," Johnson said. "Coach Campbell was talking about it this morning to the unit, just about how special this place is.
"It'll be great for our young guys to get out there for the first time, heck I don't even think (Lions QB) Jared (Goff)'s played in Arrowhead yet, so I know he's excited about that opportunity. And I think really, it's fun, whether it's Arrowhead or not, to go on the road and play because that environment, the adversity that you face, it is loud, there's energy, but that's part of the competition I think our guys really rise up to the challenge when faced with that."
BRANCH'S PLAY NO SURPRISE
GM Brad Holmes is not surprised by the early success we've seen from rookie defensive back Brain Branch. Branch is expected to be Detroit's starting nickel cornerback Week 1 vs. Kansas City.
The Lions were able to move up in the second round of this year's NFL Draft to take Branch No. 45 even though Holmes said they had a first-round grade on the versatile defender out of Alabama.
"Yeah, you never know how quick it's going to come on," Holmes said. "I would say you're talking about a kid that played at a high level for one of the more historic programs in college football under an elite head coach in Nick Saban and just his – the complexity on defense and to play that starting nickel position, that's a lot of demands mentally and physically, but it's not a surprise, really.
"He fits who we are, so you don't know exactly how quick it's going to turn on, but we're not surprised that he's making the plays because he's doing, really a lot of the same things that he did at Alabama."
Glenn said Branch is playing exactly how he expected him to play from Day 1.
"To be a damn good player," Glenn said of his expectations for Branch. "I mean we knew that when we drafted him, so it wasn't a surprise the things that he's done. We saw him do it at Alabama the whole time, so there's a reason why we had him graded that high."
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Saturday, September 2, 2023.
- Defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs was the only player not taking part in the open portion of practice for the Lions Saturday. Buggs suffered an undisclosed injury in the preseason finale in Carolina last week.
- Here's an interesting quote from Johnson on rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs: "We might use Gibbs in some ways that people don't quite think we might."