Rookies are going to make mistakes.
It's how quickly they learn from those mistakes and move forward that usually determines how productive they can be in their first year in the NFL.
Detroit Lions rookie Jarrad Davis did some good things in the preseason, but the Lions' starting middle linebacker made mistakes too.
In Detroit's preseason Week 3 loss to New England, Davis was beat a couple times in coverage. He said the three game tapes from the preseason, particularly that tape vs. the Patriots, was invaluable for him.
"Now, when I'm practicing, I can be super critical about how low I am in my stance, how fast I'm striking my hands and when to strike my hands vs. when to slip a guy and different things like that," Davis said. "It really shows up in the game and really helps me out."
Davis is slated to start the regular season in the middle of Teryl Austin's defense as the MIKE. He recorded 11 tackles in 72 preseason snaps, which is typically a full game's worth of reps.
"It really helped me out just being able to see like, 'OK, this is what the pace of the game is going to be like,'" Davis said. "This is what it's going to feel like when we're up. This is what it's going to feel like when we're down. This is what I need to fight through when we're having a little lull as a team. It was a really good experience."
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has seen steady growth from his rookie middle linebacker over the last month, and expects that will continue the more he experiences in the regular season.
"There's not one area where he hasn't gotten better," Caldwell said of Davis. "From calling the defense to getting guys set in the right spot ... and he'll grow and develop with that.
"But then just also getting an understanding of the nature of what he's dealing with from how they'll attack you. He's learning. He's making strides in each area, be it run, be it pass, be it communication."
Even though the third preseason game is billed as the regular-season tune-up, Davis knows Sunday's actual season opener against Arizona at Ford Field is going to be much faster-paced and more intense.
The games now count, and mistakes are intensified. The Lions drafted Davis because they needed more playmakers at the linebacker position. Like all rookies, he's going to make some mistakes, but he should also make his fair share of plays.
"I'm really excited," Davis said. "Being able to game plan is really giving me a taste of what it's going to be like. That stuff is fun for me."