A year ago, Justin Durant was signed a day before the Lions began training camp, thrown into a foreign environment and charged with learning a new system and contributing immediately.
The Lions linebacking unit needed an upgrade and the addition of Durant and Stephen Tulloch gave the defense the boost it needed. Working together with new teammates on the field proved at times to be a challenge, but Durant acclimated himself well and provided consistency when he took the field.
Sidelined for three games with a concussion last season, Durant was frustrated at times, but now is ready to take his game to the next level with a year of experience in Gunther Cunningham's system behind him.
"It's more time that I've gotten to know these guys," said Durant. "I don't feel like I'm an outsider anymore. I feel like a family and it's always more comfortable for me so I'm in a better position."
Durant played in 13 games last season, posting 68 tackles and one sack while forcing a fumble.
When asked if the Lions are playing as if they have something to prove, Durant didn't hesitate to agree.
"We always have to play like that," said Durant. "We didn't accomplish anything, except qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in a long time. Basically, we've got nothing to show for it. We didn't win a title or anything like that. We're always going to play like that."
A week into camp, the Lions are starting to turn their attention to the first preseason matchup, scheduled for next Friday at Ford Field against Cleveland.
Days are long, but the dedication at this time of the season is necessary for the team to build on last year's breakthrough.
"It's a tough camp but it's something that we have to go through," said Durant. "It's necessary for us to get better so I'm counting 'em down, but at the same time it's a great thing because we're getting better as a team."
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