As training camp progresses and we start to jump into preseason games, we’re starting to see how players can fit into the new Detroit Lions schedule. Some players have adapted well to the system, and some are still trying to find their place, whether through injury or other means.
We’re still hoping that some players will come forward during this time, whether it’s a wellness story or a return of redemption, hoping they can find a place on the squad. One player in particular teased us early in his career with his huge potential, but since then he’s struggled to stay on the pitch to prove he belongs to this team.
Da’Shawn Hand was drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Lions and proved almost overnight that he could deliver the goods as a runner-up and passer. He didn’t have the most striking stat of his rookie year, 27 tackles and three sacks, but he was a disturbance on the field where the offense had to factor it into every downhill.
Have you ever tasted something so good where it left you craving more just to find the place that shut it down? Well, that has been Hand’s career so far.
He has shown everyone exactly what he can do on the pitch and has the highest expectations heading into his second season. Unfortunately for Hand, he suffered an elbow injury and ankle sprains that held him back for most of the season. As a result, he will only play three games in 2019, recording just four tackles in total out of 110 snaps.
Hand’s durability was still a concern after facing a groin injury that would persist into the season, and everyone could see it clearly affecting him. He ended up playing the first part of the season, but then landed in the injured reserve and ended up playing only one of the last seven games with ankle and groin injuries.
With a new regime in place, Hand is hoping to gain a new lease of life and find a place along the defensive line. At first, it didn’t look very promising with Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill writing, trading for Michael Brockers and extending Nick Williams. To say it wasn’t going too well for Hand at first was an understatement, but lately that narrative has changed completely.
Onwuzurike, Brockers, Williams and Hand compete for this interchangeable role of defensive lineman, playing various 0T to 5T roles along the defensive line. Luckily for Hand, the latter of the three missed out on time at training camp, giving Hand reps that he might not have had if these three had ended up seeing the pitch, and after reports, he took full advantage of them.
In Thursday’s practice, he caught the eye when he got the running back in the backfield and a possible sack. Friday’s practice was when he put on the jets, lining up all over the defensive line and proved equally effective no matter where he was, that he collapsed in the pocket. , shows his rushing moves or wins 1 on 1 clashes in the interior. Then, to put the icing on the cake of a good week, Hand scored another loss tackle and a sack in Saturday’s scrum.
The hand has been dealt, well, a bad hand as far as his health is concerned for the past two years. Having managed just 13 games in the past two seasons, people were ready to dismiss him and move on. However, if Hand can stay healthy and continue to learn under Brockers, perhaps he could find a role with the Lions this season, ahead of a contract year, and rejuvenate his career with untapped potential.