Alim McNeill Using Practice With Frank Ragnow to Improve

Alim McNeill

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

The Detroit Lions could have two of the more elite young lines on both sides of the ball in 2022, and if that is the case, it will have a lot to do with practice.

While the team’s offensive front is already stacked, the defensive line could take a step forward. Alim McNeill could be a big reason why that is the case, and if it plays out, practice could be a big reason why.

McNeill has to go up against Frank Ragnow every day, and that’s something he explained to the media on Monday, August 1 that benefits him considering Ragnow’s overall talent.

“Yeah Frank is that good. I really can’t even explain it to be honest with you. Frank is just that good,” McNeill said. “He’s able to move his body, he’s strong in different awkward positions, he’s able to get you turned sometimes so when I’m out there I’m really having to work my technique, really, really having to work it. I guess a guy like Frank, if you slip up and you’re a little bit too late this way, that way it’s over with. You can hang it up.”

While McNeill and his defensive line feel as if they have improved with grit in the trenches, he still concedes that the battles with Ragnow are important for him in terms of that improvement.

“You know having that edge for me as a one on the center because we’re such in close quarters is a huge advantage for me, but going against a guy like Frank (Ragnow), it’s also very hard,” McNeill said. “It’s good work. Iron sharpens iron, but we’re able to get off the ball now and get on the edge.”

If the Lions manage to get a big season from both McNeill and Ragnow, their head-to-head battles might be a big reason why.

McNeill Feeling Healthy, Confident Before 2022

Personally, McNeill seems to be in a good place and in good shape before 2022. The big reason, as he sees it, is confidence on the field after his rookie season.

“I think part of it is confidence. Going into year two, I’m getting a little bit more confident. I’ve been seeing this last year and stuff, so I’m not as nervous but I definitely feel the difference for sure,” McNeill said.

Another big factor is health and wellness, which is what McNeill focused on in a big way by changing the way he eats and adding more healthy foods.

“That’s basically what I was doing, just getting better foods in me like more greens and fruits and stuff like that. It just gives you better energy and stuff when you’re out there on the field so yeah, that’s all it was really,” he said.

Armed with a new mindset as well as a healthier perspective, McNeill feels ready to take the next step in his young career.

McNeill Might Be Primed for 2022 Breakout Season

As a rookie in Detroit, McNeill stepped up and filled a big role right away. He played in 17 games with 6 starts in his first year, and with Levi Onwuzurike injured and taking time to adjust to the NFL, was easily the most impressive rookie defensive lineman on the field for the team.

McNeill stepped up right away as a plugger along the defensive front, and also found a way to generate a few sacks, something which the team’s line sorely needed last season on the field. He could be primed for bigger things this season.

If McNeill improves even more, the Lions defensive line could stand to benefit in a big way. When that happens, the team might have Ragnow to thank most of all for his practice toughness.

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