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Dan Campbell: We’re in trouble if second-year players don’t make a jump

From the Bengals trading orange for white to bringing back a vintage feel, Mike Florio and Chris Simms make their picks for the best alternate and throwback helmets for the 2022 NFL season.

The Lions added players like edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, wide receiver Jameson Williams and defensive end Josh Paschal in this year’s draft, but those players weren’t the focus of head coach Dan Campbell’s comments on the first day of training camp.

Campbell’s attention was on the players who the Lions added in the draft during his first year with the franchise. Tackle Penei Sewell and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown had big roles as rookies while defensive linemen Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeill, and Derrick Barnes made smaller contributions. Cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu was also in the latter category and Campbell said that the entire group has to take a big step forward if the Lions are going to make progress over last year’s 3-13-1 record.

“I mean, we’re counting on it,” Campbell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “We got to have it. I mean if they don’t make a jump, we’re in trouble. That’s the bottom line, cause those guys are kind of our core and our foundation.”

In a perfect world, the players picked this year would join last year’s selections to form the backbone of a consistent winner in Detroit. Without the jump that Campbell is looking for, however, that will be a tall order.