Undrafted Lions rookie Beau Benzschawel making strides as he waits for playing time
Allen Park — It's easy to forget Beau Benzschawel is still on the Detroit Lions roster. After all, he hasn't played during his rookie season.
Undrafted out of Wisconsin, the Lions were able to beat out several other interested teams for his services, and since he came from a big school and played a position a need, fan interest was piqued by the pickup.
But so few undrafted rookies make a roster, and even fewer make an impact. Benzschawel showed enough potential in the preseason to stick with the team, but through 10 games, he has yet to be active.
With media locked out for the meaningful segments of practice once the regular season begins, there's no opportunity to see how the young lineman has been developing, but offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has been pleased with the progress.
"He’s improving every day," Bevell said. "He’s one of those guys that (offensive line coach) Jeff (Davidson) has really challenged and moved him around to other positions there on the interior. I think that’s been to his benefit. He’s had so many repetitions because he takes our team repetitions with us, but then he also flips over and takes all of them for the scout team. He’s playing D-line.
"He’s doing everything in practice, so I think he’s getting – I think he’s really come a long way," Bevell said. "His technique has improved, his understanding of the offense has improved, and we’ll see where that shakes out at the end of the week.”
Wait, defensive line?
Yeah, Benzschawel has had to take some practice reps there, just because the Lions have had so many injuries on that side of the ball. Bevell assured us the team isn't considering a long-term position switch.
Well, that's not entirely accurate. Benzschawel, who spent his college career at right guard, has primarily been working at center in Detroit.
"He's made a lot of strides," teammate Graham Glasgow has said. "For someone that's never played the position before, its a tough position to get into, because there are a lot of operation things and mechanical things you need to get used to, such as silent counts, head bobbing, the actual act of snapping the ball, all that stuff.
"When you've really only played one spot your career, it's hard to even get in a stance the other way," Glasgow continued. "You don't even realize it, but your hips are rotated one way and you have a lot of stuff going on you don't even think about. I remember explaining that to him when he first started playing some left guard, saying, 'Hey, this doesn't look too good. You'll want to work on this and this.'"
Several months in, Benzschawel can see his own improvement. At Wisconsin, he admits he relied more on physicality than technique, but he's seen refinement there, with his strength and with his overall understanding of the game.
"Oh yeah, definitely," he said. "That's been the biggest thing for me is to continue my development, not only in the field, but in the weight room, as well as football IQ stuff, since I switched to center. Just trying to get a better grasp on that."
Like his first year at Wisconsin, when he redshirted, Benzschawel has had the luxury of, as he puts it, "not being thrown into the fire." But with starting center Frank Ragnow sidelined by a concussion, the rookie is staying ready, in case his number is called.
Lions at Washington
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
Records: Lions 3-6-1, Washington 1-9
Line: Lions by 3.5