The Detroit Lions have played better on defense in recent weeks and a big reason has to do with the play of plenty of members of the team’s 2021 rookie class.
Detroit has seen numerous players step up and deliver who were on the younger side, so it was a major thrill for the team to witness defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike score his first sack of the season on Thanksgiving Day. The play got the Detroit defense off the field, and provided the rookie lineman with some major payoff in what’s been a challenging year.
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Speaking on Monday, November 29 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, Onwuzurike talked about the sack. As he explained, it happened fast and he was happy to get the play over with.
“We had a little stunt called, so we’re slanting. Just kind of grabbed the guys hands, pulled him a little bit and got the sack. It felt really good to get the first one out of the way,” Onwuzurike admitted to the media.
As expected, Onwuzurike knows this play could end up opening the floodgates for him in a big way in terms of sacks in future weeks on the field, which he admitted to reporters.
“100% I mean, once you get the first one usually they start rolling so I mean, that’s kind of the goal for everybody,” he said.
It’s a credit to Onwuzurike’s development that the Lions have managed to see him come through with his first sack of the year late in the season. The hope is that he can continue to make such big plays the rest of the way for the team and get even more sacks to pad his rookie stats the rest of the way.
Watch Onwuzurike’s First Career Sack With Lions
The play came at a key moment in the fourth quarter with Detroit trying to halt Chicago’s momentum on defense. On second down, Onwuzurike broke through the line and managed to reel in Andy Dalton on the play. It was a good way for the team to start out the fourth quarter. Here’s a look:
Though the Lions didn’t end up winning the game, Onwuzurike’s sack was a big highlight of the day. From the start of training camp which saw the rookie sidelined for injury recovery to now, it’s been an up and down season. Seeing hard work get paid off at this point in the year is huge for the Lions and for Onwuzurike’s future.
Onwuzurike Stats & Highlights
The Lions needed some major help in the trenches and Onwurzurike can theoretically provide it. He collected 95 tackles in his time in college to go with 16 tackles for-loss and 7 sacks. Onwurzurike opted out of the 2020 season, but he showed well in 2019 when he last played. Teams looking to draft Onwuzurike were likely looking at his ability to be physical and tough in the trenches and develop into a great player in the middle.
In Detroit, Onwuzurike has started to show some signs of coming into his own on the field. Thus far this season, he has collected 7 total tackles and showed some of the burst he did in college:
In time, the Lions hope that Onwuzurike can continue to develop. If and when that happens, the confidence gained after his first sack of the season could end up being a big reason why.
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