Twelve Questions with Donnie Henderson

New Lions defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson is establishing a tough-minded disciplined system that is very different from that under Dick Jauron. The new system and the tough practices are affecting certain players in various ways.

New Lions defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson is establishing a tough-minded disciplined system that is very different from that under Dick Jauron. The new system and the tough practices are affecting certain players in various ways.

What is the situation with the linebackers? (the team entered mini-camp minus Teddy Lehman and Boss Bailey)

We've got five maybe six. The thing about being thin is that you get more reps for those guys. You tire out their legs, no doubt about it, but you get more reps with the guys, they're O.K.

Who is your middle linebacker?

"Do we have a middle linebacker? Oh, come on. You tell me who he is? Huh? Tell me who he is? Who is he? Well, who was in there today? Oh, you guys didn't see practice? Oh I got you, I thought you guys were trying to lead the witness. Right now, we've got it scripted as Lavar (Woods) is the middle linebacker right now, because that's who we got. I can't look any further than that, I'm not looking forward. That's who I got.

Have you talked to Dan Big Daddy Wilkinson? (Wilkinson missed camp and is mulling retirement)

"Have I? No. Absolutely (I want him) if he wants to be here. That's on him, that's between him and the head coach. I can't speculate, now.

Shaun Rogers effort?

Well I think, obviously I'd like him to go faster. But my thing is once he steps between the lines, that's what matters. I've got to get him to play a little harder. He and I talked. Like anything else, when it's new to you, you've got to figure out what you're comfortable with. And at some point we'll get comfortable and everybody will be on the same page. He'll buy in or he won't buy in. Like I told him, he holds the key. At some point he'll say to himself, you know what "it's OK."

Was his individual drill effort what you want?

I don't know, I didn't see the drill.

What was the drill?

All that is, is a pursuit drill. All we're doing is turning and running full speed through the coach and past the line and you're probably better going two yards into the end zone and you won't have to get called back. If you pull up you have to come back.

Why did you make him come back?

Did I? Did I do that? All man, that's OK. That's alright, he had to come back right? That's the drill.

Is this the adjustment?

There is an adjustment. Absolutely, you have it perfectly.

Are you pushing them harder?

Well I'm going to push 'em and they'll let me know. As long as they don't eyeball me they'll be OK, because I'm going to push 'em. There's a communication. There's a comfort zone for everybody. I've got to get people out of their comfort zone and push them to the next level, yes.

Dre Bly and Henderson's back and forth about strapping up?

I love that part of it. Everybody's grown. All I'm going to do is suggest it. You probably heard me say 'buckle up for safety'. So if you don't think you need to buckle up for safety that's on you. I'm going to remind you. I'm OK with it, that doesn't bother me.

Don't you have to give them a little "sugar" along with the discipline?

Everyday. Everyday you've got to give them sugar, don't you? You've got to. You can only wear a man down so much, so you've got to bring them back, so everyday.

What is the "sugar" out here?

What's the sugar out here? 'Helluva play' (Laughter)


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