Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill gears up for the 2023 NFL season with high hopes for the team’s revamped defense. As he enters his third season, McNeill aims to anchor the Lions’ run-stopping efforts and elevate the overall defensive performance. With 41 tackles, six for loss, and one sack last season, McNeill acknowledges the need for continued improvement.
Defensive Upgrades: A Game Changer
General manager Brad Holmes’ strategic moves to bolster the defense, particularly the secondary, have created a sense of optimism within the team. McNeill, along with his teammates, eagerly anticipates the impact of these defensive upgrades on the field. McNeill shared:
It’s almost like we’re playing Madden, we adding some pieces for sure. I’m excited to see what we can do.
Embracing New Leadership and Techniques
Working alongside newly appointed position coach John Scott Jr., McNeill is ready to become a “technician” and focus on finishing plays. Scott’s emphasis on mentality and skill development is expected to enhance McNeill’s performance on the field.
It’s just applying that to being a technician and finishing plays and things like that. I think it starts with mentality, we have that here, and we’re just going to continue to work and be great technicians at what we do.
In addition to Scott’s guidance, McNeill is determined to be more consistent in his performance, drawing inspiration from other standout defensive players around the league. This drive for consistency and excellence sets the tone for the upcoming season.
Healthier Habits for Better Performance
McNeill’s new offseason routine includes cutting out red meat, hydrating more effectively, and attending yoga classes. Though the impact on his physique is not yet quantifiable, he notes feeling significantly better since adopting these changes.
In addition to dietary modifications, McNeill has also adjusted his daily habits to promote better muscle maintenance and flexibility. These changes include stretching three times a day and incorporating weekly yoga sessions into his training regimen, which he believes will contribute to an even better performance on the field.
Excitement Builds Over Improved Defense
The Detroit Lions’ free agency moves, including the addition of three new starters to their secondary, have energized McNeill. The team’s 2022 last-place finish in total defense is expected to improve with the arrival of C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cam Sutton, and Emmanuel Moseley, as well as second-year linebacker James Houston.
The return of safety Tracy Walker from a torn Achilles tendon, coupled with potential draft picks, adds to McNeill’s excitement about the team’s defensive prospects. The combination of new and returning talent is poised to transform the Lions’ defense into a formidable force.
Building on Experience and Strengthening Foundations
McNeill believes that the experience of the new defensive players, combined with another year under defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, will dramatically boost the Lions’ performance. He also recognizes that returning starters, including himself, must make improvements to achieve success.
Oh, I think we can be a ton better. Just getting another year under A.G. (defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) as well and adding pieces, adding dogs like that, that have been through other places and already know what’s going on, they’ve got experience, they’ve seen it all. And just to be able to add them to the fire, I think it’ll be pretty good.
The third-year defensive tackle had 41 tackles and a sack in 17 games last season. This came while sharing duties between three-technique and nose tackle positions. This season, McNeill, a third-round pick from North Carolina State in 2021, is taking the necessary steps to ensure a more productive season.
Striving for Greatness
Alim McNeill seeks to join the ranks of the league’s elite defensive tackles by focusing on consistency and professionalism. His new diet and commitment to muscle maintenance, which includes stretching three times a day and weekly yoga, exemplify his dedication to personal growth and team success.
As far as how I’m feeling and stuff, I feel so much better, a lot more lean, a lot more flexible, can bend a lot better now. I was talking to one of my guys about it and he was asking me how I felt too. I was like, ‘I feel lean, I feel faster, I just feel a lot better.
McNeill’s transformation is primarily self-driven, demonstrating his unwavering determination to excel. He understands that in order to be the best he can for the team, he must be willing to go the extra mile in terms of preparation and conditioning. This mindset will undoubtedly contribute to the Detroit Lions’ push for a stronger defensive presence in the upcoming season.
For more from the author Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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