Alim McNeill Explains How He’s Avoiding Hitting Rookie Wall With Lions

Alim McNeill

Getty Alim McNeill on the field for the Lions in 2021.

The start of any player’s rookie year can be difficult, so maintaining the right mindset off the field can be almost as important as play on the field.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill seems to believe that. McNeill has been durable and reliable this season for the Lions, and has been able to maintain this through the season. As things push to a close, is McNeill beginning to hit any kind of rookie wall? The good news for the team is the answer seems to be no.

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Speaking to the media on Thursday, December 2 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, McNeill was asked about his mindset as he pushes through his rookie year. Has there been a wall? Not according to McNeill, who admits to trying to do the right things to avoid such a fate.

“A couple of days ago my dad asked me, and I said no, because it’s not really an option. I think It’s a mindset thing and also a recovery thing,” McNeill said confidently. “Just the way you’re taking care of your body, taking care of yourself. Learning from the older guys, from Nick (Williams) to get two massages a week, I also get some acupuncture stuff to keep my muscles and stuff going in the right direction the way they need to be. I think it’s a mindset thing. Just not allowing yourself to get down like that. I don’t feel like a wall like that has hit. I feel great, better than ever.

This season, McNeill has managed to be fairly consistent for the Lions and their defense. He has put up 23 total tackles, 1 pass defensed and 1 quarterback hit. Better than that, he has been able to stay on the field, which has been huge in terms of the learning process.

It seems that McNeill is already thinking like a veteran. That could be huge for his rapid development moving forward.


McNeill: Lions Defense Focusing on ‘Small Stuff’ to Improve

To improve, the Lions defense has been able to keep their focus in a big way this season, and it’s had everything to do with the fact that the team is paying attention to the smaller details according to McNeill. As he said, that’s been the best reason the team’s defense has rebounded at all.

“I guess just learning as the process goes. Picking up on small little details and things we could have done better in weeks prior,” McNeill said. “Just applying them to the next game, games in the future. So I think it’s just us honing in on little details that could have sparked this run here, maybe someone wasn’t here in this gap or their hips were turned here. Just honing in on the little details, the small stuff. Because the small stuff is what gets you beat. So that’s just what we’ve been focusing on lately and it’s been working.”

The Lions seem to be finding the right approach on defense, and it’s nice to see a rookie player coming through in a big way in terms of grasping what has to happen.


McNeill’s College Stats & Highlights

Entering his first season in the NFL, McNeill is bringing production with him to the big league. While playing for N.C. State, McNeill collected 77 tackles, 17.5 tackles for-loss, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 5 passes defended. He also scored 1 touchdown in his career. Obviously, those are the type of numbers that point to a guy who can move around and make a lot of plays along a front, which is just what he will be asked to do with the Lions and their very needy defensive line no matter what role he plays.

Here’s a look at some highlights of McNeill:


Alim McNeill || Matchup Nightmare || Official Highlights || "Social Distancing"Alim McNeill has a good motor and a really powerful first move. It was really fun watching his tape and I can't wait to see how he performs this year. Follow me on Twitter @GioNFLDraft My Website: thescorecrow.com2020-05-16T16:00:00Z

The Lions are hoping the athleticism that is shown in these clips shines through to help him become a star at the next level. With his play and his positive mindset showing through, it’s more than possible that can become the case in the end.

As McNeill pushes through his first season, it’s clear his mind could keep him successful in the end.

READ NEXT: T.J. Hockenson Outlines Simple Step for Lions’ Offensive Turnaround


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