Lions Coach Offers Coy Response on Week 1 Plan for Rookie Phenom

Aaron Glenn

Getty Aaron Glenn on the field before a Lions game in 2021.

In recent weeks, the Detroit Lions have seen a potential new superstar emerge in the form of linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has been a revelation in camp with his toughness, personality and his overall ability early on. The rookie sixth-round pick has earned starter looks in practice and the preseason as a result, but how about in a regular season game?

If that’s the plan, Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is not telling, at least not ahead of Sunday’s big Week 1 matchup. Speaking to the media on Thursday, September 8, Glenn was asked about Rodriguez’s first role and offered a guarded response.

As he said to reporters including Dannie Rogers of, there’s going to be a role for Rodriguez in the defense. How much of one remains to be seen.

“Defensive Coord. Aaron Glenn won’t say if LB Malcolm Rodriguez will start Sunday. Says he’s not trying to be a butthole about it but says Rodrigo will have a large role in this defense,” Rogers tweeted.

At this point, it may be smart to keep Rodriguez a secret for as long as possible, but given some of the personnel moves that have played out, it seems fair to say that the rookie will be on the field a lot.

Whether he starts or not will simply be something that fans and the media alike will have to wait a few more days to see.

Rodriguez Has Already Seen Starts for Lions

If he is asked to start or play heavy snaps, it’s not likely to be a situation that fazes Rodriguez at all given what he has done this offseason.

The rise of Rodriguez has been slow and steady. Initially, it was due to the rookie showing up and impressing on the football field with his solid and gritty play day in and day out before cameras were turned on.

After Week 1 of the preseason, the Lions coaching staff seems inclined to want to get Rodriguez some more work. In the first day of joint practices with the Indianapolis Colts, Detroit turned Rodriguez loose with the starters according to Benjamin Raven of

“Lions rookie LB Malcolm Rodriguez working with first-team defense against Colts first-team offense out here,” Raven tweeted.

That led to a starting role in the game, and more snaps moving forward. Obviously, the Lions want to see Rodriguez continue to impress, and as a result, he could be expected to play a big role in the team’s first game.

Glenn Wants Disciplined Approach From Lions

No matter how much Rodriguez is on the field, the approach is clear from Glenn in terms of what he wants to see out of his defense. This week, the call is for discipline even if the plan is to release the dogs up front.

As he told the media including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, a buttoned-up approach with some of the usual toughness is the plan for trying to defend the Philadelphia attack.

“Glenn also said he wants players to be disciplined, not reckless, playing against a mobile QB like Jalen Hurts but he won’t hold them back in any way. “We’re going after this guy” with our pass rush and we have to have other guys to play off them,” Birkett tweeted.

Knowing that Rodriguez plays with the kind of controlled aggression Glenn seems to be talking about, it feels like a good bet that he will see significant action.

How much action? That remains to be seen, but at this point, that could still be a good secret for the Lions to keep.

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