Lions notes: After disappointing rookie season, Stenberg not content to be a backup
Allen Park — Logan Stenberg didn't know what to expect his rookie season, but sitting on the bench the entire year was a frustrating experience he found difficult to take in stride.
"I came in, strapped my boots up and I was ready to go," Stenberg said. "It worked out the way it did. Obviously, I didn't play very much at all. ...Honestly, it pissed me off. I think I'm a good player and I like to play. I don't play football for the money or anything, I enjoy being out here. Not being able to do that for an entire year was hard, but it taught me a lot. Taught me how to work harder."
The Lions selected Stenberg in the fourth round of the draft, a day and a round after grabbing Jonah Jackson in the third. Jackson's technical proficiency as a pass blocker helped him earn a starting job as a rookie, while Stenberg was a healthy scratch most weeks.
Known as a dominant mauler, with a penchant for drawing flags for sometimes playing beyond the whistle, Stenberg acknowledges he quickly learned that style of play wasn't going to cut it at the next level.
That meant Stenberg's first season was focused on moving away from getting by on brute force and learning some of the technical nuances to better play his position.
"It's all just pass pro, I feel like," he explained. "Keeping your head out of it, playing with your hands and not your body. I'm used to going and getting on people right now, and at this level, with all the games they play on the defensive line, you do that and you're going to get picked and somebody is going to get carted off the field. It's all about just playing with your hands, keeping your head back, and I had to learn that really early on. I'm finally coming around to it."
Following a coaching change this offseason, Stenberg's spot on the roster became less certain. When asked about him earlier in training camp, Lions coach Dan Campbell called the lineman a "pup" with lots of room to grow. He said the challenge was to see how quickly Stenberg could develop.
So far, so good. Since the pads have come on, Stenberg has looked the part. And in the first preseason game, he had a strong performance that impressed Campbell.
"I think he was listening, I guess," Campbell said. "Since then, I would say over the last three practices and it continued into the game, it feels like he’s starting to turn the corner a little bit. He’s done some good things. He had a couple of fundamental issues in the game, but overall, you feel like, ’OK, this last week he’s beginning to grow a little bit.’ It’s encouraging. That’s what we need from him."
Lions begin roster cuts
The Lions need to trim their roster to 85 players ahead of Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline. The team got a head start when they waived tight end Charlie Taumoepeau with a non-football injury and placed offensive lineman Evan Boehm on injured reserve Monday afternoon.
Taumoepeau was injured when he was in a car accident Sunday evening, as a passenger in former teammate Alex Brown's car. On Monday, Brown was charged with two counts each of operating while under the influence causing serious injury and reckless driving causing serious injury. He was also waived by the Lions on Sunday.
Taumoepeau will revert to injured reserve after clearing waivers.
Additionally, the Lions released running back Michael Warren III off injured reserve with an injury settlement.
Mask mandate in Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Steelers announced fans will be required to wear masks at Heinz Field when visiting indoor areas of the stadium during Saturday's preseason game with the Lions.
"Regardless of vaccination status, all guests, staff and vendors at Heinz Field will be required to wear a mask while visiting any of the indoor areas of the stadium," the team stated in a release. "Indoor areas include Club lobbies and lounges (UPMC Club, West Club, PNC Champions Club and North Club), Steelers Pro Shop locations, Restrooms, Elevators and other enclosed areas."
Masks are not required in the upper and lower deck seats, outside club seating, and concourse areas, but remain encouraged. Vaccination status will not be checked at the stadium, but unvaccinated persons are being asked to wear their masks at all times.