MOBILE – One of Duce Staley's first big decisions as the acting head coach of the American Team at the Senior Bowl this week, after setting up the meeting and practice schedules for the week of course, was to determine who won the competitive period at the end of Tuesday's practice to see if the offense or defense was doing 50 pushups.
It was a pass-rush drill between Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II and Kentucky offensive tackle Darian Kinnard. It was close, but Staley chose Kinnard and the offense as the winners.
"Man, that was BS," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn jokingly said of Staley's decision after practice. "That was BS and Duce knew it was BS. I'm just going to keep that at bay. When you're the head coach, you can do whatever you want to do and he's taking full advantage of that today."
It should be noted that if the offense had lost, Staley would have had to do pushups too.
But all jokes aside, this week is a great experience for Staley as the Senior Bowl elevated assistant coaches into bigger roles. Staley is the head coach for the American Team this week. Lions tight ends coach Ben Johnson and defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant are the offensive and defensive coordinators.
"It's awesome to be able to be the head coach for the week," Staley said after Tuesday's practice. "I'm very thankful. One thing last year that (Lions head coach) Dan (Campbell) did a great job with me was just putting me in situations like this."
View photos of the Lions arrival at the 2022 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Staley is the Lions running backs coach and the assistant head coach, which means he had an opportunity to go in front of the team and address them throughout the course of the season and really be Campbell's right-hand man. Campbell is showing him the ropes of what it takes to be a head coach in this league, much like Sean Payton did with Campbell in New Orleans when he was Payton's assistant head coach there.
"I thought Duce did a hell of a job today and I still think Duce can be a head coach in this league," Campbell said Tuesday. "You don't know what you don't know. Until you do it and you're actually the one who's having to think of everything and the buck stops with you. Normally, it's easy to have a comment or something to say, but when you're the one that has to decide what you want to do, it's a little different and he'll be better for it."
Staley called this week a golden opportunity for his development for what he hopes one day will be an opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL.