DETROIT — Detroit Lions rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez continued his streak of exceeding expectations despite the team's 38-35 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Rodriguez, a sixth-round pick in April's NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State, earned the starting job for Sunday's game and finished with six total tackles including one tackle-for-loss. The Wagoner native had the highest defensive grade on the team, allowing only four catches for 24 yards in his coverage area, according to Pro Football Focus.
"Rodrigo" earned his stripes for the world to see during training camp through the "Hard Knocks" lens of HBO. His hard hits and nose for the football carried over into his first regular season game.
“I had to take my visor off," Rodriguez told MLive.com while explaining the swollen part of his face after the game. "Had like a little screw. When I hit somebody, it ended up -- punched me back in the face. So the visor didn’t like me, so I took it off on the sideline.”
Highlights of his debut included a hip-toss of 6'3, sub-300-pound Jason Kelce while fending off blockers near the endzone.
Watch Malcolm Rodriguez on this play. Getting blocked by Jason Kelce, the best center in the league and a guy 70 pounds heavier than him, and tosses him like it’s nothing. The guy is just something else. @malcolmlrod @CowboyFB @Lions #okpreps pic.twitter.com/Or7iUBw3xj
— Chris DiMaria (@chris_DiMaria) September 11, 2022
Rodriguez shined in what was ultimately a frustrating day for the Lions defense chasing around Jalen Hurts who threw for 243 yards and ran for 90 more.
“There’s no excuse for letting [Hurts] hurt us that badly,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said. “But it is tough to face that kid when you haven’t seen anyone else like him. If you take away his rushing yards, we weren’t bad, but that’s what he put on us. We have to fix it.”
The Lions (0-1) host the Washington Commanders (1-0) next Sunday.
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