NFL: Lions coaches bombard Best with info about offense
By Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — As running back Jahvid Best took a break Saturday, resting on one knee along the sideline, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan came up with a smile.
"Hey, Jahv!" Linehan said.
Linehan wasn't making small talk. He was using every spare moment at Lions rookie orientation to get his new first-round pick up to speed.
"He just keeps throwing offense at me," Best said Sunday as orientation wrapped up. "Outside of what we're learning for this camp specifically, he throws in more stuff just on the fly—just letting me hear it, so then, when I come back and everybody knows it already, I'll just have it already in my mind."
Though the Lions evaluated late draft picks, undrafted free agents and tryout players during orientation, they didn't learn a lot about their top draft picks. They already knew them well from their predraft research, and they weren't going to see much in non-contact, low-tempo practices.
The purpose was for these players to learn themselves—from the location of the cafeteria to their responsibilities on specific plays. That way they will have an easier time adjusting when they are eligible to join the veterans in the off-season program May 17.
"That's what I wanted to come in here this weekend and do, just really learn the schemes and understand what I had to get done and where I'm pretty much placed in this defense," said defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
"It's obviously not set in stone. Things can always change. But as of right now, I have a good idea of where I'm going to be and what I need to get done and what I need to work on when I have these next two weeks off and come back for OTAs."
Perhaps no one needs to go home and study his playbook more than Best.
The Lions traded up to nab Best No. 30 overall because they think they can use him in several ways to make an immediate impact. They need to add explosiveness to their running game, so defenses won't sit back and smother wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and running back Kevin Smith is recovering from a torn ACL.
"We threw just about everything we have at him, didn't spoon-feed it, didn't do just a little bit," Schwartz said. "We did just about everything because he's a guy that when he does come back, he needs to assimilate right away into the offense. We can't slow the offense down for where he is. So we moved him around a lot, exposed him to a lot of different things."
How did Best handle it?
"He sort of got his feet under him as the weekend went on," Schwartz said. "He started off maybe a little bit lethargic, then all of a sudden just exploded, and you can see what you saw on film with him. He obviously has speed. He obviously has instincts and quickness and those kind of things."
Best knows he has a lot to learn and a lot of pressure on him.
"I definitely feel the pressure," Best said. "There's a lot of potential that I have to play. But I've just got to come in and do the best I can and help the team the best way I can. Things should go great."
Best said his Lions playbook was about as thick as the one he had at California.
"But at Cal," he said, "the running back portion was just like .. ."
He held his thumb and forefinger a pinch apart.
"It was a little bit slim," he continued. "I didn't need to know everything. But at this level, you've got to know everything. I've got to know what the receivers are doing. I've got to know everything about the linemen. I've got to know what the quarterback's thinking. So I've got to learn the whole thing."