There are plenty of training camp battles heating up right now, with linebacker being one of the competitions to keep an eye on.
It’s the beginning of August and you know what that means, training camp competitions are heating up — especially for young, rebuilding teams like the Detroit Lions.
Now into the second year of their tenure, general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell had more to work with during the 2022 offseason, leading to a deeper and more talented roster.
There are several positions currently up for grabs, with the linebacker position opposite veteran Alex Anzalone being wide open. Second year linebacker Derrick Barnes is in the running, along with free agent acquisition Chris Board, and rookie Malcolm Rodriguez.
As a former collegiate running back, Barnes possesses elite athletic traits, and when he understands where he needs to go — he gets there in a hurry. He got banged up in training camp last year and seemed as if he was playing catch-up the rest of the season.
Board spent his first four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, and was consistently a top-performer on special teams. Could he carve out a role on defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s defense?
And linebackers selected in the sixth-round of the NFL draft don’t normally generate a ton of headlines during their first few weeks in the league, but Rodriguez is someone that consistently has stood out since the pads came on.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
By the end of the 2022 season, who will end up being the Lions’ second linebacker?
My answer: I don’t think it happens right away, but I believe Rodriguez ends up being the starter opposite Anzalone.
Yes, he is undersized — but the instincts and natural feel for the position are undeniable. The wrestling background doesn’t hurt his cause either, because at the end of the day, sometimes being a linebacker is as simple as being able to get a running back on the ground. The other nuances of the position should come with time, but being a sure tackler is a strong start.
What about you? Who do you think will be the second linebacker? Let us know in the comments.