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O'HARA: Wilson looking to improve after steady season

The four years that Tavon Wilson spent with the New England Patriots gave him valuable experience and lessons that he put to use with the Detroit Lions last year when he changed teams as a free agent.

The "do-your-job" mantra that head coach Bill Belichick has instilled throughout the Patriots' franchise was one of the important qualities that Wilson brought with him. In that aspect, he found a similar approach with the Lions in what head coach Jim Caldwell expects of his players.

"They do the ordinary things," Wilson said of the Patriots. "They do everything over and over again. They continue to do their job.

"That's something we do here."

It's something that Wilson brought to the field as a starting strong safety as he teamed with Glover Quin to give the Lions' secondary a solid pair of starters in the back end of the secondary. It was a position where the Lions had depth – enough depth so at times the Lions used four safeties, one of them fast-developing rookie Miles Killebrew.

Wilson was a steady performer for the Lions in 2016. He was second on the team with 89 tackles and added two interceptions, a sack, two pass breakups and two crucial fumble recoveries that showed he had an awareness for being around the ball.

Wilson also knew about rivalries with the Patriots. It seemed like the entire NFL because of their success. Wilson played on the 2014 team that won its fourth Super Bowl, and he watched on television last year as the Patriots rallied to beat the Falcons in overtime to take home their fifth Lombardi Trophy.

In Detroit, the main rivalry – and stumbling block – has been the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have made the playoffs nine straight years and won five of the last six North titles.

Twice in the last three years, the Packers have beaten the Lions in a showdown final game to win the North. In the 2014 season it was a 30-20 win at chilly Lambeau Field. Last season, it was a 31-24 win at Ford Field.

Based on this year's schedule, it looks like the NFL is expecting a third Packers-Lions showdown for the third time in four years. The Lions and Packers meet in the final game at Ford Field.

Losing twice to the Packers last season has given Wilson first-hand experience of how the Packers have made the North their personal domain.

"They've won (the division) the last few years," Wilson said. "They're definitely the team we're competing with in our division.

"I think you learn right away (about rivalries). When you've been part of the NFL for as long as I have, you learn right away. Patriots-Jets, Pittsburgh-Baltimore – everybody pretty much knows the rivalries in the NFL."

Wilson is not looking ahead to matchups and rivalries this early in the offseason workouts, which primarily are limited to lifting and running.

The start of the offseason program is one step in preparing for the regular season. Having a season behind him in defensive coordinator Teryl Austin's system has put Wilson at an advanced starting point from where he began the offseason last year.

"I think every year is a new year," Wilson said. "I'm looking to go out and improve every year. Last year was a good year, but we didn't get the job done like we wanted to. I'm looking to build on this offseason.

"I feel like I was comfortable from the beginning (last year). I worked really hard to get everything done. I felt comfortable from Game One."

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