Despite the fact he’s “playing” out the final weeks of his tenure in Detroit, Michael Brockers has still been an important veteran leader as the Lions have made progress this season.
As the oldest player on the Detroit Lions’ roster, and one whose on-field impact has not been great over the last two seasons since being acquired from the Los Angeles Rams, Michael Brockers is playing out the string this season.
If he were playing, that is.
Brockers is a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, as he has been all but once since the Lions’ bye week. In Week 11 against the New York Giants, he suited up for 12 defensive snaps as the team’s defensive line was thinned by injuries.
By all accounts Brockers, as much as it’s easy to overrate such things, has been a veteran leader and a great example for his younger teammates.
As Justin Rogers of The Detroit News described it, Brockers’ spot in the locker room (previously held by guys like Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch) is a spot symbolizing that status as a respected veteran leader.
Michael Brockers playing an important behind the scenes role in Lions’ turnaround?
With their 1-6 start, the Lions’ 2022 season was careening toward another where draft pick position became the top conversation. But six wins in their next seven games, and now six wins in their last eight, has put them in the NFC playoff conversation.
The firing of defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant after the Week 8 loss to the Miami Dolphins was the turning point for the Lions’ defense. Via Rogers, Brockers talked about that.
"You just looked at the season at that point and we could have called it a year, you know?” Brockers said. “And a lot of guys felt like, man, this isn’t it; this isn’t us. I saw that and I felt the emotion that they put off and I was just like, man, let’s talk about this. If everybody feels this way, if so many people feel this way, let’s really talk about it. That was really it, man. I’m all about the team. I’m a team guy. Whatever I can do to help us win or to help us be better, that’s what I’ll do."
Within his demotion to being out of uniform on Sundays, Brockers has embraced working with the scout team. Head coach Dan Campbell noted contributions made there.
"For that guy to put his pads right back on, and he goes out there and does scout team for us,” Campbell said. “He runs the freakin’ cards, he runs the scout team when we’re separated, doing defense on defense. He’s playing the center and working the protection. He’s literally a coach on the field."
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Lions find a way to have Brockers in uniform for Week 18 against the Green Bay Packers, as a ceremonial thank you, even if the game has playoff implications as an “all hands on deck” and/or “the best players will play” scenario.
But once Brockers is gone, surely as soon as it’s palatable in the offseason, his impact stands to remain as the Lions continue to build a culture.