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Worrilow can help Davis emerge as leader on Lions' defense

Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis was right in the middle of Detroit's defense during last week's open OTA practice, playing the MIKE and calling the plays.

It's something Davis also did at Florida the last three seasons prior to the Lions selecting him with the 21st overall pick in this year's draft. That part of the job description isn't new to him.

Davis was the heart and soul of Florida's defense, and coaches were effusive in their praise of his character and leadership style.

In Detroit, he's having to start that part of his game from scratch as he tries to earn the respect of his veteran teammates.

"You have to come in and earn the respect of the older guys," Davis said. "You're not going to come in and raise your voice and talk to an older guy who's been in the league doing this for six, seven, eight, nine years.

"You're not going to be able to tell them, 'Hey, this is how we're going to do it. This is how things are going to go.' You can't do that."

Just as Davis is being evaluated every day by his coaches and veteran teammates, he says he's also doing some assessments of his own.

"I'm seeing what guys are doing. How guys work," Davis said. "I'm seeing what makes a guy go. What makes a guy get upset and shut down a little bit. I'm working every little piece of the game to make sure I know how to address my teammates and how to push them when it's time for me to step up and take that role."

There's no rookie manual or timeframe for when that right time is. Veteran Paul Worrilow, who the Lions signed in free agency this offseason, knows that all too well.

Worrilow wasn't a highly coveted first-round pick like Davis was -- Worrilow was an undrafted free agent out of Delaware signed by the Atlanta Falcons in 2013 -- but like Davis, Worrilow was identified as a leader early on by the Falcons and won a starting job on Atlanta's defense making the calls his first season.

He's been in Davis' shoes, and could be a terrific resource for the young linebacker as he tries to navigate Detroit's locker room.

"I wasn't drafted, but I did start as a rookie ... running the defense," Worrilow said. "That's something I think Jarrad is in a position to do. Any little bits (of advice) I can give him (I will). When to raise your voice, because I went through that. It was a little awkward for me at times.

"If I can just be there for him in that little part. Maybe it's not on the field, just off the field, studying, getting ready, relating to guys. I'll do whatever I can."

Learning the X's, O's, coverages and complexities of Teryl Austin's defense early on in his Lions career is important for Davis. But at the same time, he's also trying to get to know his teammates, which might be the most important study of all if he's going to be the kind of leader both he and the organization want him to be.

"It just takes time," Davis said. "It takes time."

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