Jarrad Davis doesn’t mind sounding like he’s playing the same tune when he lays out his expectations for the Detroit Lions’ defense this year.
There are sure to be changes in structure and emphasis – and personnel -- under new head coach Matt Patricia, but what won’t change is the intensity and commitment Davis expects on the practice field and in games as he prepares for his second season as the starting middle linebacker.
“Honestly, we’re going to be 11 guys out on the field,” Davis said Wednesday evening. “We’re going to be hunting the ball carrier. No surprise there.”
Davis was reminded that what he’d just said at the annual Taste of the Lions event at Ford Field was what he said in April when he spoke to the media at the start of the offseason program.
He’s repeating himself for a reason. He’s not changing his tune. There is no flip side.
The hits will be coming.
“I mean it,” Davis said. “We’re going to be out there getting after it. We love to work. Just to see that love and that ambition to prepare – just imagine what the product is going to look like.
“We just walk into the building each and every day with a new standard. We know last year’s 9-7 wasn’t good enough. We come in every day with that in the back of our head, to make sure we’re not at that level anymore.”
Massive changes since the end of last season no doubt will have an impact on the defense. It starts at the top with Patricia as the head coach. There’s also a new coordinator (Paul Pasqualoni) and a new linebackers coach (Al Golden, who coached tight ends the previous two years).
There are also changes in personnel at linebacker, with the signing of veteran free agents Devon Kennard, Christian Jones and Jonathan Freeny.
Kennard is likely to be a starter at strong side linebacker. He and Davis have forged a bond in a short period of time.
“He’s a great leader already,” Kennard said of Davis earlier this week. “He works hard. I think he has a bright future. A great teammate.”
The energy level Kennard was known for in his four years with the Giants has impressed Davis.
“From the first day he stepped in the building, you could feel it ... just the energy he comes to work with every single day,” Davis said. “The way he carries himself. It’s awesome to have a teammate like that.
“He sets the bar high. I want to re-set it so we can keep going and reach new levels every single day.”
It’s clear that Davis and Patricia have a strong connection. Davis showed that in actions, not just words, at Wednesday’s event.
As he was walking between stations to do his media interviews, Davis spotted Patricia and changed course. They shook hands, hugged and engaged in a brief but animated conversation.
“Once Coach Patricia came in, he put that Lion on his chest like everybody else,” Davis said. “He was one of us. We’ve got his back in everything he goes through. We expect the same from him. Once he put that Lion on, he’s family.”