Levy, Sims, Foote options at MLB
Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said he feels comfortable with where the Lions are at middle linebacker after seeing third-round draft pick DeAndre Levy in last weekend's rookie orientation.
Levy really impressed me in our camp, Cunningham said. The thing that shocked me is that he looked more like Julian Peterson on tape playing for Wisconsin, and then when I saw him on a couple running plays, there are no pads on, but he was able to read through the bodies in front of him and show up right at the ball. It really surprised me that he acted like a middle linebacker. He never acted like he was an outside linebacker, so I'm excited to see what he can do.
Levy, who started three years at outside linebacker for the Badgers, is penciled in as the Lions' No. 1 middle linebacker for now. Backups Cody Spencer and Chris Graham also are on the roster, free agent Larry Foote will visit tomorrow, and Cunningham said Ernie Sims is a candidate to move inside if Levy doesn't work out.
Cunningham said Foote is a good football player, but it remains to be seen if the Lions will offer him a contract. Foote, a Detroit native who'll turn 29 in June, might find a more attractive offer elsewhere.
I've watched Pittsburgh for a lot of years and I evaluated him when he came out., Cunningham said. He's done a good job, he's had a good career at Pittsburgh. Whether he fits here or not, we'll have to see if we ever do get to that point and then we'll address it then.
Cunningham also indicated Sims is a better fit in the new defense than he was in the Tampa 2 system last year.
I've tracked everything and I understand what happened, he said. Tampa plays a different kind of scheme than most people do and they did it because they had one great player, Derrick Brooks. And I think they thought he was going to fall out of a tree again, and there's going to be like 50 Derrick Brookses running around. There aren't. He did some unusual things, and God bless Monte Kiffin and those guys for putting together the scheme.
But basically the way Ernie had to play last year, I call it bluff, he bluffs one way and falls back the other way. ... I think Ernie's finding out we're letting him play with his eyes and he's hitting the ball fast, both in coverage and on the run. And I'm really happy that he's come along as far as he has.
Cunningham also lavished some unprompted praise on second-year linebacker Jordon Dizon, who'll play outside and in the middle on nickel situations for the Lions.
I heard he made a statement that he probably got drafted too high, Cunningham said. This morning I said, 'Well, we had you in the top of the third round and the Lions took you in the top of the second, does that mean we were stupid, too?' And I think he needed to know that he's pretty good. And what I've seen him do on the practice field has been really impressive. He's a good student of the game.