The chance to once again become a starting linebacker in the NFL is one of the main things that made former Atlanta LB Paul Worrilow want to sign with the Detroit Lions as a free agent.
Worrilow started most of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons in Atlanta before the Falcons took two linebackers in last year's draft, and Worrilow lost his starting middle linebacker job to rookie Deion Jones.
"Just an opportunity to come in and compete," Worrilow said during a conference call Friday of one of the things that attracted him to Detroit. "That's all I want. Not being promised anything. I want a chance to go play good ball."
He'll certainly get that opportunity in Detroit, especially after the release of veteran linebacker DeAndre Levy on Thursday. The Lions return only two linebackers who saw any significant playing time last season, Tahir Whitehead and Antwione Williams.
Worrilow had 95, 142 and 127 tackles, respectively, from 2013-15 as a starter. His 142 tackles in 2014 led the Falcons. He appeared in 12 games – and made 21 tackles – this past season.
"My mindset (last year) was I was playing on special teams and I'm still out there," Worrilow said of losing his starting role on defense. "No plays are different. It didn't matter where I was on the field. I wanted to approach it, play my best ball and play as hard as I can."
He said last year's experience in Atlanta, not just losing his starting spot, but also playing mentor to a couple rookies while making a Super Bowl run, forced him to grow up a lot as a player.
"I improved, I know that for a fact," he said. "Having two young guys my role a lot of times was kind of being an outlet for them in terms of watching film and getting ready because it was all new to them.
"In a teaching environment I learned a lot more that way. I got better at watching film -- at practice. Being on the scout team I had numerous reps against one of the best offenses to work my game and work my craft and see how good I can get. There's no doubt my game is the best it's been in my four years."
The Lions haven't promised Worrilow anything when it comes to a starting spot. He'll have every opportunity to compete for a spot like everyone else, and just maybe he'll earn a chance to recapture the kind of production he had when he was a starter in Atlanta his first three seasons in the league.