Simply seeing Louis Delmas get on the field for the Detroit Lions in last week’s preseason game against the New England Patriots wasn’t enough for me. Sure, it was a step in the right direction after missing so much time with knee soreness but for a defensive leader like Delmas, simply being on the field isn’t enough.
There may not be a more vocal member of the Lions defense than Delmas. His return to the lineup last year against the Philadelphia Eagles coincided with one of the more spirited defensive efforts of the 2012 season. That probably isn’t a coincidence. But for Delmas to be a true asset to the defense he has to do more than just be on the field and serve as an emotional leader.
As a rookie, Louis Delmas flashed brilliant playmaking ability. He returned a fumble for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in his first regular season game. Late in his rookie season he took an interception back 101 yards for another touchdown. By the end of his rookie year, Delmas had a sack, a safety, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and two touchdowns. The playmaking ability was evident in year two as well with two more sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
But then the injuries really started to set in. Delmas has missed 13 games over the last two seasons and been severely limited in many others and it wasn’t only the playing time that dried up. Over the last two seasons Delmas has a total of just one interception and one fumble recovery.
The Lions have been vigilant through training camp to make sure Delmas is ready for the start of the regular season. For their plan to truly pay off it has to lead to more than just playing time – it has to lead to a Delmas healthy enough to make plays like he made during his first two years in the league. Will it play out that way? The way Delmas looked Thursday night – getting into the backfield, recovering a fumble – is a step in the right direction. Now we need to see it play out over the course of the season.