Dicky Lyons can remember a time when he would have been upset if he felt he was being overshadowed by teammates. But those days are over.
Instead of worrying why quarterback Andre Woodson, running back Rafael Little, receiver Keenan Burton and tight end Jacob Tamme are making preseason all-Southeastern Conference teams and receiving the bulk of the publicity, he enthusiastically endorses what is happening.
"Those are the seniors and leaders on the team. Those are my captains and the guys I follow. They are teaching me to be a leader when they are gone. I am going to respect everything they do and try to learn everything possible from them," Lyons said.
So is this really a more mature Dicky Lyons than the guy who has found his way into coach Rich Brooks' doghouse for lackadaisical effort and outrageous statements at times?
"That's what it is. A spot is always available for me to stay out of trouble. I just have to work hard to keep it that way," Lyons said. "There probably was a time I would have got upset if I thought I was being overlooked, maybe last year or the year before. When you are not getting much recognition as a young guy you think they (the coaches) don't care about you.
"But when they stop talking to you, you are on your own scale and know that they have an understanding that I know what to do and how to work hard. They are letting me work and working more on other guys who need more work."
Unlike last spring when Lyons was fighting to earn a spot in the playing rotation, he's now an established receiver. That has changed his approach to spring practice.
"A spot is not what I am going for. I am trying to better myself as a wideout. I am watching Keenan (Burton) and Steve (Johnson) for what they do to make me better. I am focusing more on perfecting my position instead of just always trying to make the big play.
"The goal is to have a better year. You have to set goals. I don't want to have a worse year. You have to step up. We are going to need a bigger year out of me to have a bigger year as a team."
And for a change, there's no way Brooks can be anything but pleased to hear Lyons say that.