Lions linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard joins Jack Campbell bandwagon

Jack Campbell seems set for a breakout season, and Lions' linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard has joined the party.

In a broad sense, Jack Campbell had a good rookie season, finishing second on the Detroit Lions in tackles while playing all 17 games and starting 12 contests. He had the expected ups and downs a first-year player will have, and he was often exploited in coverage.

As OTAs got going last month, Lions' defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn praised the work Campbell had already done (via

"Let me tell you, first off he’s a man. He’s a grown man. He’s really taken control of this offseason the way that he should take control of it," Glenn said. "He’s a true MIKE backer. He’s a guy that lives, breathes green-dot mentality as a MIKE backer..... Just the way he’s leading the men, as far as defense, is impressive to see.” 

Campbell followed that by popping up during mandatory minicamp (a two-interception day), and he has become impossible to ignore as a breakout candidate for this year.

Lions LB coach Kelvin Sheppard praises Jack Campbell

Kelvin Sheppard is a sneaky rising star on the Lions' coaching staff. It feels inevitable he'll make the jump from linebackers coach to a defensive coordinator post, then eventually be a head coach. By all accounts he's a demanding coach, but he also willingly praises players.

Speaking to reporters last week, via Pride of Detroit, Sheppard talked about Campbell, who appears to be taking the reigns as the Lions' MIKE linebacker.

"It’s hard to get a full tell, obviously, physically on the linebacker position during this time of year due to the physical nature that we play, especially here, but he’s exceeded my expectations which were already high,” Sheppard said. “He’s come back further along than where I expected.”

"I’m telling you it’s at another level,” Sheppard said. “This guy here’s operating like an eight-year vet as far as making the calls, how he sets the standard of how we practice as a defense, and I think other guys are starting to look towards him now.”

Campbell credited his rookie season, which saw him play multiple positions (even as a edge rusher) to help him understand the big picture beyond what his individual responsibilities might be in a given spot. He got to take over the "green dot" when Alex Anzalone was absent for the voluntary part of OTAs, with Glenn and Sheppard noting his growth into the role.

As other parts of the Lions' defense look improved, Campbell will be an important piece of the puzzle and he is asserting himself as such.