Graham Glasgow can take the long view back on his career to appreciate the level he has reached in his career development as the Detroit Lions’ starting center.
As one of the young leaders whose performance and leadership are being counted on, Glasgow has learned to advance through the changes that are inherent in pro football.
One thing the Lions won’t have to adapt to this year in Matt Patricia’s second season as head coach is the difference in styles and demands from those the Lions been accustomed to under previous head coach Jim Caldwell.
As the Lions began the official offseason program this week, they knew what to expect in the two-week Phase I period – and what’s to come later as the physical activity heats up.
“I think there’s not a lot of gray area in that situation,” Glasgow said Tuesday. “The expectations are known. They expectations are set. I think it’s up to us as players to meet those expectations and to take the coaching and make sure we can kind of take the team to the next level.”
Glasgow has adjusted and adapted from the earliest stages of his career to the present. He’s become a dependable leader going into his fourth season, and his third as the starter at a critical position on the offensive line.
His reference points of progress start before he played his first game at the University of Michigan. He likes the fact that his stock has risen. He’s worked hard to achieve it.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “It’s particularly cool to look at when you zoom out even further – to where you started out as a walk-on in college.
“Getting to the point where I’m at now, it hasn’t come without a lot of hard work. If I get to where I want to be, it’s still going to take a lot more hard work.”
Change is a constant in the NFL, and the Lions will have their share on offense. They have a new offensive coordinator in Darrell Bevell. They have to find a full-time replacement at right guard because of the retirement of T.J. Lang. And they’ve added a new power runner with the signing of free agent C.J. Anderson.
Bevell, who was hired to replace Jim Bob Cooter, has a reputation for developing strong running games from five seasons as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings (2006-10) and seven with the Seattle Seahawks (2011-17).
Glasgow has interacted only briefly with Bevell since he was hired. Under NFL rules, coaches aren’t allowed to be on the field with players until Phase 2 of the offseason program, which begins for the Lions the week of April 29.
“I really can’t touch on that very much because I haven’t really talked to him that much,” Glasgow said. “We’ve talked for about five or 10 minutes. As far as I can tell, he seems like a really good guy – a genuine person. I think we’re going to have a good unit this fall.”
One advantage that Glasgow sees in replacing Lang is that they have time to do it, as opposed to making in-season or in-game adjustments.
“You’ll be able to be with that guy or a group of guys for four or five months before we go out there for our first game,” Glasgow said.
The running game improved last year, largely with the addition of rookie Kerryon Johnson, and an increased emphasis by Patricia.
The Lions improved last year from league lows of 76.3 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry in 2017 to 103.8 yards per game and a 4.1 average.
“I think that like myself and my group in general, we made a lot of strides last year,” Glasgow said. “We did a lot better in the run game. Overall, we did a pretty good job in pass protection.”
Glasgow likes what Anderson brings to the offense as a tough inside runner. Anderson has averaged 4.5 yards per carry over his six NFL seasons.
“As an offensive lineman, you love it,” Glasgow said. “As an offensive lineman, especially in the running game, you kind of like to move a guy from Point A to Point B. I’m sure that’s one of the biggest clichés in the game.
“When it comes to a big physical guy, and a guy who’s going to impose his will on defensive ends and linebackers and safeties, that’s something you love to see.”