ALLEN PARK — Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand’s effectiveness and time on the field has grown in the first four weeks of the season.
While the Lions are a disappointing 1-3, Hand is one of the positives so far.
The rookie has started the past three games and hit highs in snaps (48) and percentage of snaps for the defense (70 percent) in the loss at Dallas on Sunday.
Along with left guard Frank Ragnow and running back Kerryon Johnson, Hand is one of three rookies who are regular starters.
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)
Hand and the Lions are moving on from Dallas. They play their first NFC North opponent on Sunday when they host the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers.
“He is an elite player, I think that goes without saying, everybody knows him. They’ve got a great team, it’s going to be interesting,’’ Hand said.
Five things to know about Hand:
1. Hand was a fourth-round pick out of Alabama and so far the Lions like what they see. “I think what we saw on tape coming out of college is a lot of what we’re seeing right now with the technique. He plays with good fundamentals and pad level,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “A lot of this system is similar to what he used in college with similar, let’s call it coaching backgrounds from that aspect of it. I think the transition was pretty good for him from that standpoint. And really, it’s just been on him to really go out and improve every single week.’’
2. Hand took full advantage of his increased playing time on Sunday. He picked up his first NFL sack, getting to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott early in the fourth quarter. Hand also forced a fumble on the Cowboys’ final drive but the ball took a Cowboys’ bounce and Prescott was able to recover it. “I just was working a move, trying to get upfield and I just hit the orner and swiped for the ball, it just took a bad bounce,’’ Hand said.
Had the Lions been able to recover the fumble perhaps they would have had a chance to hold on to and win the game. That doesn’t weigh on Hand’s mind. “Think I’ve said before in a couple interviews, but that stuff is irrelevant thoughts to me,’’ Hand said. “You think about what-ifs then that’s all you’re relying on. If you think about irrelevant things you’re going to get irrelevant results.’’
3. He credits the leadership among the players for helping keep the right mindset. Veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois has taken a leadership role on the defensive line. “(Leadership) is really strong, older guys they definitely it’s all about turning the page, keep getting better and don’t worry about the irrelevant things,’’ Hand said.
4. Hand didn’t start in Week 1, playing 32 snaps (53 percent) in the loss to the Jets. He got his first start in Week 2 and has started the last three games. In four games he has 14 tackles and one sack.
5. Patricia likes Hand’s steady improvement. “ I think that’s the biggest thing with him in particular is that there’s been a big improvement from the spring, then to training camp, and I would say through the course of maybe the first couple weeks in training camp until we finally got to some preseason games where we could evaluate him against other talent and some other players,’’ Patricia said. “It just has continued to get better for him. I would say he’s got a long way to go. I think in general upfront we didn’t play particularly well enough all the way across the board. So, not real good (Sunday) but I think he’s working himself in the right direction.”