LIONS INSIDER

DeAndre Levy's plan is simple: Stay healthy, keep producing

Posted May 29, 2014

It's only May, but linebacker DeAndre Levy can already see he's going to play a big part in a Teryl Austin's aggressive defense.

DeAndre Levy had one of those individual seasons in 2013 defenders dream about.

In his fifth year out of Wisconsin, the linebacker recorded a career-high 119 tackles (85 solo), had a team-high six interceptions and tied for the team lead (Rashean Mathis) with 15 passes defended.

DeAndre LevyLB DeAndre Levy (Photo: Detroit Lions)

It was a monster season.

Levy, however, says there’s still more he can give, which has been his focus this offseason.

“Every year is a new year,” Levy told detroitlions.com. “Last year doesn’t mean anything for this year. I’ve just been trying to mentally push myself off the field a little bit more and just put a little more into it. Hopefully I can stay healthy and keep being productive.”

That's a big key in 2014 for the Lions and their defensive MVP from last season.

There's been a lot of interest in the SAM (strong side) linebacker position this offseason and the Lions' plans for that spot after drafting Kyle Van Noy in the second round to play it.

The WILL (weak side) linebacker has new responsibilities in defensive coordinator Tery Austin's defense, as well, and Levy says it's been nice starting over and learning a new defense.

“It’s a little bit of a learning curve just learning a new defense and new scheme and a couple different principles here and there,” he said. “This year I’m playing the WILL. Last year we played left and right, so I was kind of at times the SAM and at times the WILL, but right now I’m strictly the WILL.”

Levy says there are some fundamental differences in the way Austin and new linebackers coach Bill Sheridan play the WILL linebacker vs. the old regime as some of the principle responsibilities are different.

It's only May, but Levy can already see he's going to play a big part in a much more aggressive defense from a linebacker perspective. A defense he thinks he can have a lot of fun in.

“Right now I think it’s kind of fitting that way,” Levy said of playing more aggressive. “It’s new to everybody. Everybody has that energy and extra step and we have a lot of (scheme) in right now. Once we get more familiar with it we’re really going to let it go and hopefully have some fun.”

Too many times last year the Lions weren't able to make the extra play to win games and both sides of the football were guilty. The offense couldn’t get the extra first down or the defense wouldn't make the third- or fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter to clinch a win. The Lions were tied or leading in the fourth quarter of 15 games last year and finished 7-9.

Levy said Sheridan, who was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator last season, is stressing fundamentals, along with the other defensive coaches, in an effort to be in a position to make those extra one or two plays that could be the difference late in games.

“He’s a direct, straight-forward guy,” Levy said of Sheridan. “Really fundamentally sound coach. He emphasizes things over and over and that’ll be good for us. He never lets up. He’s constantly on you about your fundamentals and every little thing. If he can wear some of that off on us it’ll be good for us.

“Everyone is learning it really well right now. Everyone is on the same page and if we can keep it up it’ll be great for us.”