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O'HARA: It's an exciting time for Patricia, Lions

Matt Patricia's first meeting with his players in a team setting as head coach of the Detroit Lions comes at a fitting time in the National Football League calendar.

It is an exciting time – most certainly for first-time head coaches like Patricia -- but in a muted way with no game plans to prepare and no results on Sunday to walk away from and put the pieces together, win or lose, for the next week's game.

In terms of roster building, it's a period of uncertainty as teams have completed the major phase of free-agent signings and are looking ahead to the draft later this month to either add to the work they've already done or shore up areas that they were unable to address.

Strictly from a coaching standpoint, this will be the first installment for Patricia for what's to come in the critical relationship between a head coach and his players.

First impressions don't mean everything, but making a good one doesn't hurt.

What Lions players know about Patricia comes from his reputation earned as defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, any video clips they've seen since he was hired on Feb. 5, and information they may have gotten from talking to friends who played under Patricia in New England.

This is a big moment for Patricia, and one he ought to enjoy. He has spent his first two months as head coach doing all the necessary things away from the stadiums and practice fields that are part of being a head coach.

That means things like hiring his staff, player evaluations and scouting trips in preparation for free agency and the upcoming draft and meeting with players individually on an informal basis.

Today is different, even if it only kicks off the first few weeks of conditioning workouts with no supervised practice time on the field and minicamps with the coaches to come.

It's a chance for Patricia to spell out his vision for the team and what he expects.

Patricia has talked about his general philosophy and concepts for offense and defense. He wants a team that can control the game, which obviously means improving a running game that ranked last in the NFL last year, and a defense that has been built from the ball out.

The players have heard all that, and good a number of them no doubt are wondering where they fit in. Those answers will come as they always do, even without a coaching change.

The bottom line for Patricia today is that being with his new players for the first time gives him a chance to enjoy his favorite part of his job – be the coach.

As he said in an interview shortly after being hired: "It's what you live for."

One man's advice to any new head coach in his first meeting with his players: Be yourself, say what you mean and mean what you say. In Patricia's case, he has created a positive vibe among Lions fans with his energy and a direct blue-collar approach.

Why project anything else with his players?

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