Allen Park — Without the responsibilities of being a college student, rookie Tyrell Crosby has had no trouble filling the down time.
The offensive lineman from Oregon has found more studying necessary with more positions on his plate.
“Really just trying to put more responsibility on myself, outside of the facility, whether it be trying to recover, watching extra film or things along those lines,” Crosby said. “It doesn’t matter where they put me; I’m just going to try and embrace it, really, and just work on it.”
Crosby has seen time at left and right tackle with the second offense in camp, and has been billed as a player who could help at guard, if necessary.
Lions coach Matt Patricia said drafting the Oregon tackle was not a need pick for the team, but said Crosby’s value in the fifth round prompted the selection.
The 6-foot-4, 309-pound Crosby did not allow a sack as a senior for the Ducks at left tackle and was selected by Pac-12 defensive linemen for the Morris Trophy, as the top offensive lineman in the conference.
“Even though the initial need may not be there, it’s just too hard to pass up,” Patricia said. “What’s been great so far with camp, when the pads have come on, we’ve really been able to see kind of the physical side of him and his length and his ability to kind of keep the pass rushers away from him and hold the pocket.”
This early in camp, Crosby said, he’s keeping more tabs on his man-on-man matchups in practice film rather than overall offensive schemes.
He could fill in to spell starters Rick Wagner and Taylor Decker, but said the starting tackles have helped him learn the pro game.
“I feel like I’m surrounded by great people on that O-line,” Crosby said. “This year I don’t know where I will be, so just trying to get used to both.
“For a young guy, doesn’t matter what position you are, you look at training camp as a way to get better each day. You find different things and work on one thing every day to improve on.”
Lions' new mentor
Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said he was a loner during training camp throughout much of his career.
But on Thursday, as has been the case more than once early in training camp, Jean Francois took time to mentor some of the younger Lions defensive linemen.
“As players see me working out, they’ll ask, 'Hey I’ve seen you do this, can you do this with me?', and I’m OK with that,” Jean Francois, 31, said. “I never wanted to be like, ‘Hey, I’m going to help you.’ They just come to me and ask.”
It’s a preseason habit he picked up from Josh Norman when Jean Francois played with the former All-Pro cornerback with Washington in 2016.
“He used to say, ‘Why you going inside? After we get out of here, you’ve got all the free time in the world. You can go out here and still work on your craft,’” Jean Francois said. “It’s making us better as a player. It’s just making us dig deep to find a player we know we had, it just took somebody to bring it out of us.”
Jean Francois has been working with the first team in Detroit, which signed him to a one-year deal after the 10-year veteran spent six regular-season games apiece with Green Bay and New England last season, then played in the Super Bowl for the Patriots.
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.