ALLEN PARK >> New defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni is itching to get to work in his first training camp with the Detroit Lions.
He has gotten to know the players through OTAs and minicamp, but when training camp starts on Friday it all gets real.
“I want to see tough, I want to see smart and I want to see really well-conditioned guys,’’ Pasqualoni said on Thursday. “What do I mean by tough? Tough is working at a very, very high dependable level on a very consistent basis regardless of what we’re doing — meeting, lifting weights, practice, watching film — every single day. To me that’s tough. Smart from a defensive standpoint – no penalties, knowing what to do, knowing situational football. … So that smart thing is really really important. And condition is condition being able to play hard every single snap, not having to take less effort because you’re so tired you can’t go hard.’’
Players report Thursday and hit the field on Friday morning.
Five thoughts from Pasqualoni on the eve of camp:
1. For him, the scheme is not the most crucial element to a successful defense. He started his career as an elementary school teacher and worked his way up through the coaching ranks. He’s still a teacher at heart and that’s what excites him. He loves developing players and helping them be the best at what they do. “I think there’s a lot of ways to climb a mountain, a lot of ways to skin a cat. I don’t think the scheme is always the most important thing,’’ Pasqualoni said. “I think it’s the attitude and the improvement of the guys who have to do all these things.’’
2. While defensive end Ziggy Ansah starts camp on the physically unable to perform list, Pasqualoni is not concerned that he will miss much about the new scheme. “I look at all injured players the same, there is no reason the attention and the passion to prepare in the meetings and mentally in practice is not at a very high level, the same level,’’ the defensive coordinator said. “So the approach with an injured player is you don’t miss a rep, you do not miss a rep. Regardless of whether you can do the walk-through, can do the practice, you can always, always mentally get the rep. When you’re a pro and at this level of football that is your job, you’re responsible for the information.’’ Of course, he didn’t offer any details on Ansah’s health.
3. He’s taking a wait-and-see approach while he gets a better idea of what kind of unit he has. “I’m going to find out about what I like about our depth on our defense. I’m not prepared right now to be prepared to say we have depth or we don’t have depth,’’ Pasqualoni said. “We have to get going, start working our way through preseason camp – practice hard, work hard let the cream rise to the top.’’
4. He also would not talk about certain players. He was specifically asked about linebacker Jarrad Davis whose growth from a rookie to Year 2 could be critical to the success of this defense. “Again I’m going to say this I think we have a lot of terrific guys on this team. Preseason camp is a different time. I’ve been in this long enough to know that this is a grind. I want to see how each and every player on this team reacts to this next phase of the program which is preseason camp,’’ Pasqualoni said. “I’m going to reserve my comments until we’re into it.’’
5. He’s known Matt Patricia since he opened the door for Patricia as an offensive grad assistant at Syracuse where Pasqualoni was the head coach in 2001-2003. “Obviously I always knew Matt was high-energy very bright guy. Always knew that. He is extremely well organized. The details regardless of what we’re doing whether it’s meetings or practice, or offseason program or conditioning or taking care of the players, hydration, nutrition, he really does an outstanding job. You know the guy but until you work with him there’s no way of knowing that. I think he’s very very well organized a very detailed guy,’’ Pasqualoni said.