Heart and Soul

Lions' linebacker Stephen Boyd, coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, has the Lions' defense ahead of schedule under new coordinator Vince Tobin. "He has great knowledge, (and) he knows where he has to be and he makes plays," said Tobin.

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Justin Vanfulpen - LionsFans.com

SAGINAW -- When it comes to the heart and soul of the Detroit Lions defense, only one name comes to mind, Stephen Boyd.

Boyd is one of the more intense players on the Lions defense and is one of the most productive defensive players in the NFL and is in an elite class among linebackers in the league. Boyd heads into the 2001 season coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, last year he was voted as a starter on NFC team, but was unable to play while resting a minor back ailment suffered during the season. In 2000, he led the team in tackles for a fourth consecutive year with 166 stops. Boyd was named second team All-Pro by the AP, and was voted by teammates as Lem Barney Defensive Player of the Year and the Joe Schmidt Leadership Award recipient.

With all the changes that happened with the Detroit Lions organization this past off-season, from the new GM Matt Millen, to the new head coach Marty Mornhinweg to the Lions new defensive coordinator Vince Tobin, the team will look to Boyd to remain constant.

The defense right now, not surprisingly, is ahead of the Lions offense in training camp -- and one reason is that the Lions will look the same this season since their base package will be the 4-3, just like last year.

"It's going to look the same but there is some different things that we are going to do," said Boyd.

With Vince Tobin as the Lions' new defensive coordinator, the ball club will be doing a little more blitzing and attacking the opposing offense and not so much waiting to see what they are going to do, and then reacting, like the defense sometimes did last season.

"Vince, I think is going to attack people," said Boyd. "His reputation speaks for himself he has been such a successful coordinator whereever he has been. I think guys are excited to play for him."

If the defense is excited to play for him, then what do the linebackers think about their G.M. being an old linebacker just like them?

"It gives hope to the rest of the linebackers in the league so one day maybe we will be G.M.'s," Boyd laughs.

One thing the new regime brings is NFL championships, and that is something that the old Lions management and coaching staff did not have in their past history.

"You are talking about guys who have been champions and what better do you get then that?," stated Boyd.

"I think they bring a tremendous amount of intensity, and talk about experience playing in Super Bowls," said Boyd. "They have surrounded the team with guys that have played in the Super Bowl. That is contagious.

"We all have to catch on to that and listen to them because they've been there and have been successful at it."

One thing that Boyd has been successful at is his ability to make plays. He is not just a run stopper, but he has played in the Lions nickel package for the past few seasons and has shown the ability to play well by just making plays. Last season, he had an interception and defended 8 passes while causing 2 fumbles and recovering one. Boyd is not the fastest of the Lions linebackers, but he is the best, and he is one of the hardest workers on the team.

"I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can to stay on the field. But I don't have a problem if they tell me they're going to play a faster linebacker or a strong safety," said Boyd. "But at the same time, I'm still going to work by butt off to play 100 percent of the plays."

Boyd is a very good student of the game and he knows what the other teams offense wants to do, plus what the defense as a whole is suppose to do to stop them.

"He has great knowledge, (and) he knows where he has to be and he makes plays," said Tobin.

And making plays is what Boyd is all about.

>> To contact Justin VanFulpen email him at: justin@lionsfans.com

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