Lions' Beau Benzschawel makes debut, is 'coming along as expected'
Allen Park — Like many 20-somethings from Wisconsin, it doesn’t take long to figure out Beau Benzschawel’s childhood idol.
As a young player from a football family, Benzschawel worshipped at the altar of Brett Favre as a young Cheesehead.
Well, after getting on an NFL field for the first time this past weekend, the Lions offensive lineman is now bearing down on Favre. While the legendary Green Bay quarterback played in 297 consecutive games, Benzschawel enters Sunday’s season finale against Green Bay 296 games away.
“I probably say he still is (my favorite),” Benzschawel said Monday, carefully noting he is no longer a Packers fan. “Just the gunslinger mentality he had.
“I don’t think he has to buy a beer in Wisconsin ever.”
Benzschawel is not quite at free Miller Lite status yet, but if he can build upon last week for a long NFL career, well, maybe someday.
The rookie lineman and former Wisconsin Badgers standout got in two plays in the 27-17 loss in Denver, both successful kicking attempts for Matt Prater.
So far, so good.
“One, they stemmed, the nose guards crossed, so it wasn’t too heavy pressure on our side,” Benzschawel said. "The second one, we had some C-gap jumpers, so we did a good job of plugging them across and getting them to the ground.
“So yeah, I think I did a good job.”
It was the second game Benzschawel, a guard, was active, as he also suited up for the loss at Washington last month, though he didn’t play.
The Lions coaching staff has added the center position to Benzschawel’s plate this season, and he has even filled in at defensive line for the scout team.
“At first it was pretty overwhelming, all these things rolling through your head,” Benzschawel said of playing center. “But now I think I’m doing a better job of seeing defenses and just kind of making calls, being confident with the calls, getting everybody on the same page.
“That’s the biggest thing at center is playing with confidence and making sure everybody is in the right spot to do their job.”
Despite the lack of game action, Lions coach Matt Patricia said his staff has been pleased with the progression made by Benzschawel, one of two born and bred Wisconsin linemen on the Lions, along with tackle Rick Wagner.
“I think he’s coming along as we expected, learning obviously the NFL game and playing a little bit of multiple positions for us,” Patricia said. “He does a good job of moving around especially on the look-teams for us during the week and giving us some different position flexibility there.”
Benzschawel’s father, Scott, was a two-way lineman at Wisconsin in the mid-1980s and uncle, Eric, played tight end for Barry Alvarez.
Benzschawel’s younger brother, Luke, is still a tight end for Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst, who also has a commitment from the “baby” brother of the family, J.P., a 6-foot-7, 260-pound high school junior offensive tackle.
It’s a lunch-pail family from a lunch-pail state that, like many others, worships and emulates Favre, who was as reliable as they come.
Like Benzschawel, for one game anyways.
“He’s the same guy every day, comes in, he works hard, he’s consistent,” Patricia said. “So you can build on it as it goes. I think that overall development as a player has been positive."
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.