It's unusual to say an athlete who stands 6-7 and weighs 264 is going through predictable growing pains, but Detroit Lions rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson is not being judged by conventional standards.
One game into his pro career, Hutchinson's performance in the 38-35 opening-game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles is under scrutiny.
It was not a good day for the Lions' defense. They gave up 455 yards, and could not contain Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.
And it was not a particularly good day for Hutchison. He played most of the game and managed only one assisted tackle.
Safety Tracy Walker got the Lions' only sack.
The Lions need to get more production from their defense – Hutchinson included – against the Washington Commanders at Ford Field Sunday.
Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash isn't concerned about Hutchinson's performance and future. His growing pains are the byproduct of a rookie going up against veterans in the transition from college to the NFL.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.
"The game is a lot different," Wash said. "Probably in college, they're going against guys who are the same age. They could be older than a freshman tackle they're playing.
"Once they come here, for the most part these left tackles, nobody gets rid of them. If you're a good tackle in this league, you're going to play a long time. They've been playing for a long time.
"It always takes a little time technique-wise, and the more the year goes on he's going to figure it out more and more how to rush the guys we're with."
As he would for any rookie, Wash expects Hutchinson develop throughout the season.
"He's doing everything we want him to do," Wash said. "He's going to be just fine.
"I don't think you can make a decision on how a kid's going to play from his first game. I don't think you can make a decision on how your team's going to play after one game.
"There's a lot of football left."
Three keys, Lions:
1. Defense -- Control opposing QB: This is obvious. The Lions cannot let Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz dominate the game the way Hurts did for the Eagles last week.
It's a different challenge this week with Wentz. He does not have Hurts' mobility, which Hurts used to gain 90 yards and escape pressure to keep drives alive.
Wentz has been more of a drop-back passer with some mobility throughout his seven-year career with the Eagles, Colts and now Washington.
Wentz threw four TD passes in Washington's 28-22 win over the Jaguars in Game 1. He also had two interceptions, was sacked only once and was credited officially with six runs for 12 yards and a long run of eight yards.
However, three of those official runs were kneel downs that lost two yards combined.
2. Offense – no lulls, keep the pedal down: The offense did its job, putting up 35 points, and that's something it's going to have to do until the defense starts producing.
But going three and out three straight possessions after scoring on the first drive let the Eagles take advantage to build a 21-7 lead.
The Lions have the offensive firepower move the ball and score points.
3. Clean up mistakes: The Lions have to cut down on missed tackles and dropped passes. They had only one turnover vs. the Eagles, but it was an interception that was returned for a touchdown
Commanders' triple threat: Terry McLaurin is looking forward to being part of a triple threat of receivers for the Commanders as a takeaway on what he saw in Sunday's 28-22 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Curtis Samuel, who missed most of last season with an injury, had eight catches for 55 yards and one TD.
Rookie Jahan Dotson, drafted 16th overall, had three catches for 40 yards and two TDs.
And McLaurin, who had 222 receptions and 16 TDs in his first three seasons with the Commanders, had two catches for 58 yards with a 49-yard TD catch.
"We can be a very dynamic group," McLaurin told reporters after the game. "We have a great skill set. Three different guys bring three different things to the table. We all have a chance to make big plays.
"We want to have as many weapons as possible to make this offense as explosive as we can."
My pick, Commanders at Lions: It's too early to call it a must-win game, so "better not lose" might be the best way to describe the urgency to win for the Lions. They need to build faith in what they're doing and the only way to do that is by winning.
The offense will carry its share of the burden. The defense has to pick it up.
Lions 31, Commanders 26.