Allen Park — Lost in the excitement generated by running back Kerryon Johnson, and the solid and steady play of first-round pick Frank Ragnow, another Detroit Lions rookie had a promising debut in Friday's game against the Oakland Raiders.
Playing one of the most underappreciated positions in football, defensive tackle Da'Shawn Hand put his best foot forward in the preseason opener, recording three tackles and a pass-rush pressure in 29 snaps.
"I thought he did a good job," Lions coach Matt Patricia said Monday. "I thought he really tried to play with the technique, he’s familiar with our technique, I would say, from coming out of college, familiar type of system in the way that we play.
"I thought he did a really good job for a young guy, stepped in, made some plays, was in some good positions, good situational football, too."
The Lions gave up a future third-round pick to trade back into the fourth round and snag Hand, a former five-star recruit out of Alabama. In a year in which the Lions are undergoing a schematic overhaul, he represents the team's only long-term offseason investment in its defensive line.
Like so many of his teammates, Hand leans heavily on cliches during interviews, preferring to blend in off the field and let his play do the talking.
"There's always room for improvement," Hand said. "I'm just coming out here, just busting my butt and trying to work hard every day."
He's noticeably been part of a young group of players who have attached themselves at the hip to Ricky Jean Francois, a 10-year veteran eager to impart his knowledge on anyone seeking it.
Hand figures to have a steady role in Detroit's defensive tackle rotation, plus adds some versatility with his ability to play on the edge in certain sub-packages. On Monday, he scored some reps with the first-team defense in one of those personnel groupings, which could be perceived as a reward for his performance on Friday.
"It’s one game, it’s a couple plays, we’ll see how it goes here the rest of the week," Patrica said. "But I thought from that, just the sample there from the game the other night, that was a positive.”