'People person' Reggie Ragland sees growing role on Lions defense
After the Detroit Lions defeated the Atlanta Falcons with an improbable late-game comeback last Sunday, the team posted a video of the locker room celebration.
Right in the thick of it was linebacker Reggie Ragland, holding up an over-sized boombox and showcasing his dance moves while surrounded by his teammates.
Ragland's authenticity, humility and sense of humor shine through the first time you talk to him. He's a people person, eager to connect with those around him. And even though Detroit is his third NFL stop in five years, and he didn't have a traditional offseason to build those relationships, there was nothing anybody could do to stop Reggie from being Reggie.
"That's Day 1 me," Ragland said with a laugh. "Maybe Day 2. Maybe Day 3. It just depends, you know. I've been a people person my whole life, so like I've always liked getting to know people, be around people. I always want to get people comfortable with me. That helps me get to know my teammates and let's my teammates know, 'OK, you got a good dude in this locker room. He ain't got nothing extra going on.' I'm gonna just be me all day every day."
On the field, Ragland is all business. That's helped him win accolades and championships at every level, culminating with a Super Bowl last season with the Kansas City Chiefs. But he's never allowed his professional success to impact who he is on a personal level.
"I always want to be known as a good person, and I'm going to credit that to my parents," Ragland said. "Them being on me early as a kid and, especially my dad, he always told me, 'I always seen you had the ability, but you always got to be a good person at the end of the day.'"
With the Lions, Ragland has seen his role slowly expand in his first season with the team. In the past two games, he's played more than 50% of the defensive snaps, even though the way the Lions have utilized him has been different than what he's done previously in his career. Primarily, he's spending far less time off the ball, while seeing more opportunities along the line of scrimmage.
"I'm versatile," he said. "I can play inside. I can play outside. I can rush the passer. I can do all things. The more you can do in this league, the more you get on the field and play, and I know I can play football."
Along with Ragland, the Lions defense has seemingly turned things around coming out of their bye week, limiting the Jaguars and Falcons to a combined 38 points in back-to-back wins.
The reason for the turnaround, according to Ragland, is simple.
"Because everybody's doing their damn job," Ragland said. "And we know we're a good damn defense. We just knew if everybody do their job and make teams one-dimensional, we'll have a good chance at winning ballgames, and that's what we're starting to do."
The Lions released linebacker Elijah Lee on Thursday afternoon. The move could be to create a roster spot for defensive end Everson Griffen, who was acquired in a trade on Tuesday. Another possibility is the impending activation of cornerback Justin Coleman off injured reserve.
“He’ll be out there today, which will be great to see him out in some situations out there and give him some reps and see what it looks like," Lions coach Matt Patricia said ahead of Thursday's practice. "He’s getting better every week."
In addition to Coleman's potential return to the lineup, the Lions also got cornerback Desmond Trufant back on the practice field for the first time since he aggravated his hamstring injury Oct. 4 against the New Orleans Saints.
Along with Trufant, running back Adrian Peterson (abdomen), offensive tackle Taylor Decker (shoulder) and cornerback Darryl Roberts (hip/groin) were all limited. All three were new additions to the injury report.
Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin was absent for a second straight day while addressing a personal matter.