Malcolm Rodriguez practices with first team in joint practice
Lions rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, one of the stars of Hard Knocks’ first two episodes, worked with the first team in a joint practice with the Colts on Wednesday.
The sixth-round selection has impressed coaches and veteran teammates with his study habits, technique and instincts, per Kyle Meinke of mlive.com. Rodriquez is outshining veterans Chris Board and Jarrad Davis as well as Derrick Barnes, a fifth-round pick in 2021, as he seeks to win a starting job alongside Alex Anzalone.
The Lions haven’t had a rookie drafted as late as Rodriguez win a starting job out of training camp since linebacker Dennis Gibson, an eighth-round selection in 1987.
“I mean if the coaches want me to start, I’ll start,” Rodriguez said after practice, via Meinke. “It’s not a big deal. It’s just one of those things where I’ll step in that role and just be that vocal leader out here.”
Linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard praised Rodriguez during a recent film session in the meeting room, a scene shared on Hard Knocks. Sheppard admitted he was trying to find a reason not to play Rodriguez, while challenging the veteran players to keep him out of the lineup.
Rodriguez has earned the nickname “Rodrigo!” among the team, and fans have been chanting his nickname after seeing Hard Knocks. Rodriguez insists he isn’t letting the sudden attention or the promotion go to his head.
“I really just stick around my family,” Rodriguez said. “I just kind of listen to the family, go about my way and stay off social media. I just kind of stay to myself and have a small circle right around me.”