Levi Onwuzurike, Detroit's second-round pick in this year's NFL Draft, thinks he might get a talking to from coaches about staying away from the quarterbacks in the red jerseys at practice after they review Tuesday's practice film. Onwuzurike got a little too close to quarterback David Blough in a team period at practice Tuesday and made some light contact with him.
But the good thing about getting a talking to, is that for it to happen, it means Onwuzurike has to be in the backfield in the quarterback's face. That was the case a lot in practice Tuesday.
Onwuzurike, who just returned to practice this week after the team was being cautious with a lingering back issue he was dealing with, had his best practice of training camp. He was in the backfield all day, and that's what the Lions expected when they took the 6-foot-3, 295 pounder out of Washington with the No. 41 overall pick.
"I was always good," Onwuzurike said of the back issue that prompted the team to send him to a couple specialists early in camp. "It was just more the Lions trying to take care of me and make sure I got there the right way. Obviously, I was annoyed I couldn't come out here and play, but I think they made the right decision and what we did helped."
Onwuzurike, who opted out of the 2020 college season, said the injury was just a lingering thing dating back to college.
The Lions expect Onwuzurike to be a disruptor up front and give them some pass-rush prowess from the interior of their defensive front. He recorded 12.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in the 2018 and 2019 seasons combined for the Huskies. He was also the most dominant player at this year's Senior Bowl before a soft tissue injury sidelined him in Mobile.
He and fellow rookie Alim McNeill are expected to be big contributors upfront for the Lions. With Onwuzurike back healthy and practicing, it wouldn't be a surprise if both are in the starting lineup Week 1 vs. San Francisco.
View photos from practice at Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Tuesday August 17, 2021.
"Alim, he's been balling," Onwuzurike said Tuesday, when asked what kind of duo he and McNeill could potentially be. "We were just talking about this saying, 'We the duo, let's get it right.' I mean, we've been talking about this for so long, so to actually get out there, play next to him and all the other guys ... those are my boys, you know?"
Onwuzurike appears to be trending to make his debut in Pittsburgh Saturday in Detroit's second preseason game. He's definitely one of the young players to watch the next couple weeks now that he's back to playing again. If he's as dominant as he was in Tuesday's practice, the Lions might be on to something with Onwuzurike.