The Detroit Lions are reaching a crucial period in building the roster for the 2022 season.
Decisions have to be made on numerous positions, either for starters or backups.
Linebacker is a position where decisions have to be made, and rookie Malcolm Rodriguez is a major part of the discussion.
He has been impressive from the start of rookie minicamp through Wednesday's joint practice with the Indianapolis Colts.
View photos from Day 1 of Lions-Colts joint practice on Wednesday August 17, 2022.
The only knock against him is his size – 5-11, 230 pounds – and that doesn't seem to faze head coach Dan Campbell.
The Lions knew Rodriguez was undersized for the position when they drafted him in the sixth round out of Oklahoma State. He's still 5-11, and maybe a little heavier.
They also knew he was smart, athletic and aggressive. Rodriguez is still all of that – with the addition of experience in the NFL environment that has jumped him into a contender for a starting job.
The two joint practices with the Colts – Wednesday and today -- will help decide some roster positions.
"We're going to find out a lot by the end of tomorrow," Campbell said before Wednesday's practice.
Rodriguez has been in the rotation at inside linebacker of late with Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes. Rodriguez started the first preseason game against the Falcons. He had a tackle on defense and an assisted tackle on special teams.
"It'll work itself out," Campbell said. "He's very aware. He sees things quick. He's no different than Saint (wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown) was last year. He can see the game. He can feel the game.
"He's aggressive. He plays hard. He's a finisher. And he can run. He's got speed."
View photos from the Detroit Lions' trip to Indianapolis for joint practices and their Week 2 preseason game against the Colts.
Rodriguez hasn't gotten distracted by obsessing about where he stands on the depth chart.
"If it comes that the coaches want me to start, I'll start," he said. "It's not a big deal. It's one of those things. I'll step in that role and be vocal and that leader out there."
The first thing he talked about Wednesday was the practices with the Colts.
"It's high intensity," he said. "The coaches preach that, going against another team. I feel like the guys today had that juice, and we were ready to go."