Lions rookie Aidan Hutchinson continues to impress as minicamp ends

Aidan Hutchinson still isn’t sure that it’s set in that he is indeed a member of the Detroit Lions.

“It’s just the weirdest thing, thinking back to when I grew up. It’s all weird but I’m rolling with the punches,’’ Hutchinson said on Thursday, the final day of the Lions’ three-day minicamp.

Still since the draft he has continued to impress coach Dan Campbell.

“I think he’s been all business. I told my wife this last night, what’s great about him is he’s quietly getting better right in front of us,’’ coach Dan Campbell said on Thursday. “He doesn’t say anything, he listens. He’s like a sponge in there, he absorbs information, he watches how things are done and the way coaches want them done. Then he’s got a motor and he goes and he learns and gets better every day. You can see it. I love that about him — everyday there’s growth in front of us.’’

Thursday was the last day of work for the veterans before they report for training camp in late July.  However the rookies (including Hutchinson) and developmental players will get more hands-on and one-on-one work with the coaches next week.

“It’s been great the whole camp, I’ve learned a lot, I feel like I have this defense down almost,’’ said Hutchinson who still lives with is parents in Plymouth. “I’m definitely trying to make things muscle-memory at this point.’

He seems to take the jump from college ball at Michigan to the NFL in stride..

“It’s a different tempo, a different game, to be honest with you, compared to college but one I’m getting used to, I’m feeling good with so far,’’ Hutchinson said. “t’s just the pace of the game, the plays you get, the tempo, it’s a split second faster, it’s different in those ways.’’

Hutchinson, the second overall draft pick, said it’s been great to pick the brains of the veterans on the team and looks forward to going up against the offensive line when training camp starts in late July.

“I think we’ve got one of the best offensive lines in the league if you look at all five starters, those guys are studs,’’ Hutchinson said. “Getting up against them, especially when we get to camp with one-on-ones and team reps against those guys, I think it’s super beneficial to me. When I practice against them here.’’

Next week will be different without the veterans. Campbell looks forward to it.

“I kind of like this time of year. The rookies come into rookie minicamp and really feel great about themselves.then the vets come in and they realize they’re not as good as they think they are and they’ve got a lot to learn,’’ Campbell said. “Then they watch how it’s done, then they begin to grow and they start learning they’re still going to ask questions. They’re the young guys in the room … Now that they’ve seen how it’s done, they’ve had time to sit in the room with the vets, once they go away now you start getting those questions. You get more one-on-one and they get a little jolt in their development.’’

Lions rookie Aidan Hutchinson impresses early

While it is early in the process, Detroit Lions’  first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson seems to making the transition to the pros smoothly.

“Here is my initial read: everything that we thought we were getting shows up, not just in practice but in the meeting room also. … He has this quickness that is unbelievable,’’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said.

Naturally all eyes were on the rookie defensive end who impressed on the third day of OTAs on Thursday. He notched a pair of sacks during two-minute drills. Again, there is a long way to go, but so far so good.

Hutch was known for his work ethic at Michigan and he lost none of that on his way east to Allen Park.

“Just watch him, he’s always working. It’s that relentless attitude you guys see when he was at Michigan that made him so successful and it’s natural for him,’’ Glenn said. “There’s no doubt in my mind this player is  going to be a really really good player for us. I’m executed to see once we get in training camp and get in the games for us.’’

Hutchinson will work daily against the Lions’ offensive line, which if it remains healthy, is solid. Left tackle Taylor Decker, who is sitting out while his foot heals, said on Thursday that it’s the most talented line since he’s been in Detroit. 

Coach Dan Campbell expects Hutchinson’s biggest transition will be the physical part — adapting to the speed of the game and the types of tackles he will face.

“I’ve said before this is where I think Hutch is going to have a big advantage is he’s going to have to go against (Penei) Sewell and Decker every day. I think that’s huge. I think that will play more into his development than a lot of other things … I think it can excel his progression,’’ Campbell said.

Hutchinson is 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds and Campbell is happy with is strength but sees better things ahead.

“He’s got a ton of room to get more powerful, if you would. His strength is good enough to go out and compete no problems there, but yet, man, there’s still a ton of meat on the bone with him. That’s pretty exciting,’’ Campbell said.

The interview with Campbell was prior to Thursday’s OTA session. 

“You can never tell for sure but I would say (strength) is one of the reasons we wanted to pick this guy — his DNA says he’s going to do everything that he can to be successful and he’s got enough ability and enough strength, he certainly does, to go out and help us and help us win some games,’’ Campbell said. “How fast will that be? I don’t know. I know this we’re not going to put him out there until he’s ready. He’s going to have to show that to us. We’ll see how it goes.’’

Five things to know about Lions DE Aidan Hutchinson

Aidan Hutchinson is no stranger to the Detroit Lions after growing up in metro Detroit and playing at the University of Michigan

So on Thursday night at the NFL Draft when the Lions were on the board with the second overall pick, he was thrilled to see the Detroit area code when his phone lit up.

“I knew that was definitely a deep sigh of relief from me and my whole family for sure,’’ Hutchinson said on Friday at a media briefing at the Lions facility in Allen Park. 

An edge rusher, Hutchinson fills a need on Detroit’s defense and he couldn’t be happier to be playing near home.

Five things to know about Hutchinson:

1. He should be a good fit in the Lions’ defensive scheme. “I think the play style is just relentless, it’s nasty and  it’s what the whole coaching staff was brought here under coach Campbell, that’s the mentality,’’ Hutchinson said. “I come in and bring that same mentality that’s why I’m a perfect fit for this scheme and the Detroit grit. I think I fit that mold.’’

2. He loved his pre-draft visit with the Lions. “Out of all the visits, the Lions was one of my most seamless ones because of how smooth it was and it was so easy to talk football and to communicate with all these coaches.’’ Hutchinson said. “I think that’s going to lead to some future success, for sure.’’

3. On Friday, after a flight in from Las Vegas and not much sleep, Hutchinson said it had not hit him yet that he was a Lion. “Just walking around the building today with my family, it’s just weird. Growing up I was a Michigan guy, I’m around Detroit sports so much,’’ Hutchinson said. “To think I’m a Lion seems like a wild dream to me, but now it’s kind of come true. It’s wild but I’m soaking it all in, I’m sure one of these days it’s going to hit me.’’

4. After following in his father’s footsteps at Michigan, Aidan is in uncharted waters now. His dad, Chris, was a Michigan captain who won Team MVP in his final season in 1992. Instead of playing in the NFL, Chris attended medical school and now works as an emergency room physician at Royal Oak Beaumont. “I’m starting to get into territory that my dad hasn’t even been in, it’s starting to get a little foreign for him, I’ll have to navigate this on my own,’’ Aidan Hutchinson said with a smile.

5. He grew up a Detroit sports fan but admitted he doesn’t have a ton of great memories from the Lions, mentioning the 0-16 season. He wasn’t born when the Lions won their last playoff game on Jan. 5, 1992. “I’ve been to a couple LIons games and the atmosphere is great. When the Lions are winning ball games it’s like happy wife, happy life,’’ Hutchinson said. “The fans are just so into it, so I just hope that we’ve got the right pieces coming in, the coaches are right, we have to get this ball rolling.’’