Trey Flowers admits he has always been a little jealous at practice when the offensive skills position players and defensive back seven would go through 7-on-7 periods against one another while the offensive and defensive lines were off to the side on their own working on technique in individual periods.
But with Flowers now moved to a hybrid outside linebacker role in Aaron Glenn's new 3-4 base scheme, he is being asked to do a lot more than just rush the passer off the edge, including dropping back and playing in coverage and space in the passing game. That means Flowers gets to be a part of 7-on-7 drills.
"Back when I wasn't doing the 7-on-7, I was working on the stuff I always worked on and you'd look over there and say, 'Man, they're having fun over there. They getting PBU's (pass breakups) and locking up running backs and receivers.' That energy is definitely a new experience. I have fun with it."
The to-do list is definitely longer for Flowers in Glenn's scheme. He's been a traditional hand-in-the-dirt defensive end playing in essentially the same scheme his entire six-year career in New England and then in Detroit the last two years under Matt Patricia's scheme.
Flowers admits he's still a bit of a work in progress in coverage, but says he's already come a long way from where he began in the spring.
It says a lot about Flowers' character and leadership that an established six-year veteran, who signed a $90 million contract just a couple seasons ago to be a pure pass rusher, can change course and learn a new position to help his team and try to develop his all-around game.
Flowers thinks learning some of these new techniques like keeping his hips low and improving change of direction skills in space can help his overall body coordination and can translate to him being an even better pass rusher, which is still his main job.
"I think as far as body control and being able to take in knee bend and knee strength and hip strength and all those things you have to put an emphasis on guarding a fast guy (in coverage)," Flowers said. "Now you're getting pushed by a 300-pound guy, but you still got that hip ability and knee ability, so I think it'll all make me a better player and better athlete in general."
It's still pretty early in the process, and the more reps Flowers gets in his new role the more comfortable he'll continue to feel, but Lions head coach Dan Campbell has liked the progress Flowers had made so far.
"He's doing a good job," Campbell said Thursday. "It is a little new for him. It's different, it is. There's things I'm asking him to do that he hasn't done. Here's the beauty of Trey, he's smart, he works his rear off, he's adaptable, and he's tough.
"To be able to play that outside defensive end, there's a little technique issue here, but he's going to overcome and he'll develop and grow and get into it. Some of the stuff where you're dropping at times, it's all new. Where he was from spring to now, it feels pretty good to watch him. He's only going to get better the more reps he takes at it."