Malcolm Rodriguez is getting a lot of attention
With the help of HBO’s Hard Knocks, Malcolm Rodriguez, or as the team calls him “Rodrigo,” has become a fan favorite. While coaches and teammates will preach his work ethic and talent, the reality is, he’s still a rookie.
Rodriguez is a first year linebacker from Oklahoma State University. Born and raised in Oklahoma, he stands at just 5’11” but weighs in at 232 pounds… an absolute unit. The Detroit Lions drafted Rodriguez in the sixth round, 188th overall, and to this day it’s a surprise how he fell so far.
He has been an energizer bunny on the field and in practice. He is always on, always attentive and always learning.
You’ll even hear him in Hard Knocks saying “man this is fun” while in the middle of a play, and he’s even more well known for saying “Training camp is fun because you get to hit people.” Rodriguez has the mentality where he doesn’t care if he is a starter, he just wants to be here and get better every day.
In a previous interview, he said, “I mean if the coaches want me to start, I’ll start. It’s not a big deal. It’s just one of those things where I’ll step in that role and just be that vocal leader out here.”
In today’s press conference, linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard said that he understands the hype behind Rodriguez and while he thinks he is deserving, we have to remember this is preseason, he’s a rookie and he hasn’t played in a single real game yet.
Sheppard has not been quiet about his thoughts on Rodriguez. In the second episode of Hard Knocks, he tells the lineman in a meeting:
I am “(Expletive) sick of saying this about a rookie. What y’all want me to do, put him out there first? Because that’s what’s about to happen. This is nothing against you Rodriguez, you’re (expletive) playing your ass off dude, but it’s a rookie. I’m doing everything I can not to put him out there first. I’m sick of (expletive) saying it. He’s in the same (expletive) drills y’all were in.” Sheppard says he’s very real about what he thinks about situations and players and he will always tell it how it is. “
The Detroit Lions coaching staff stands behind him
At the beginning of this week, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn was asked about Malcom being a star and his response was “Well, you guys made him a star.”
The coaching staff hasn’t wavered on their thoughts of him. While letting him have his moment in the light, Glenn says he still has to earn his keep and states “he understands exactly what he needs to do to be a part of this defense.”
Coach Sheppard says the Hard Knocks hype and the hype of being a starter is “a lot to put on a kid.” “He’s knocked down every single question I’ve ever had about him,”
Sheppard still wants to take it down a notch and reevaluate after a few weeks of the regular season. He wrapped up the Rodriguez talk by saying, “I hope for my sake and the Lions sake that we are still singing the same kind of praises.”
So while America, or at least Detroit Lions’ fans, may be in love with Rodrigo, it may be time to pump the brakes on the fantasies of seeing him start week 1 of the regular season.