O'HARA: Powell looking to add to experience gained last season

Unlike many of his Detroit Lions teammates and a large segment of Americans in general, Game of Thrones was not part of Brandon Powell’s must-see television viewing during the offseason.

It was a game of his own – specifically the last regular-season game at Green Bay – that Powell never grew tired of playing and replaying.

Powell had a strong supporting role in the Lions’ 31-0 season-ending victory over the Packers.

With top receiver Kenny Golladay out with an injury, Powell got a chance to make his first pro start as a slot receiver. He responded with six catches for a team-high 103 yards.

He had a long reception of 41 yards on a short pass over the middle early in the second quarter that he took to the Packers’ 15-yard line. That set up the Lions’ second touchdown for a 14-0 lead in what became a rout and the Lions’ fourth straight win over the Packers.

Whatever the circumstances of the game might have been – two teams under .500 playing out the final game in a disappointing season – it was a highlight moment for Powell to close out his rookie season.

And it made for good TV viewing at his home in Gainesville, where he played wide receiver and running back for the University of Florida before being signed by the Lions last year as an undrafted free agent.

“I still watch that game a lot,” Powell said. “It’s still to me unreal to be catching passes from Matthew Stafford. I’ve watched the Green Bay game a million times already. I grew up watching these guys play football. To be out on the field is unreal.

“It was a blessing, being out on the field in an actual NFL game after watching all my life. I wish I could have contributed a lot more. It’s going to take a lot more work this year.”

Powell’s performance could prove to be a big step for him in a season of small gains with the odds against him from the beginning.

View photos from Day 2 of 2019 Detroit Lions OTAs on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 in Allen Park, Mich.

After going undrafted, he showed enough in training camp and the preseason to make the 53-player roster for the regular season.

He was used sparingly, playing in only five games before the season finale. Going into that game he had five catches for 26 yards. He played 47 snaps on offense against the Packers, almost half of his total of 99 for the season.

Powell had prepared to start against the Packers, and he got some advice from veterans on how to approach the game.

“Everybody said it was the last game, ‘Show what you’ve got,’” Powell said. “’Play the game of football. Make some plays.’”

When he watched the game at home, was it as a fan or critic?

“Kind of both,” he said. “I’m always watching to find ways to get better.”

The Lions are progressing through the phases of offseason workouts, with the first set of OTAs this week. There’s a lot to learn for everyone under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

In that regard, Powell is starting over with everyone else – from established veterans to incoming rookies.

He expanded his TV viewing in the offseason to include videos of how the Seahawks ran their offense under Bevell’s tenure as OC (2011-17), and specifically how receivers such as Doug Baldwin were deployed.

“That’s all I’ve been watching,” Powell said. “I’ve been watching a lot of those guys, watching how they run their routes, how they worked in that offense. You have to prove you can play.

“Basically, in the slot, use your quickness to get open. That’s what Coach Bevell teaches – get open. That’s what I have to work on this offseason.

“I’ve got a little experience, knowing what it takes to play in this league. Now I have to find extra ways to get better.”

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