As the Lions put on pads, Dan Campbell wants to see intensity (but not too much of it)

Detroit Lions Off-Season Workout
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It’s kneecap-biting time in Detroit. Well, it’s time for almost kneecap biting.

The Lions will practice in pads for the first time this year, and new coach Dan Campbell wants a lot of intensity. But not too much intensity.

“I want to see these guys compete,” Campbell said, via Eric Woodyard of “I want to see these guys get to the point where it is almost an all-out brawl but there isn’t one.”

Regardless of whether it gets to the point of fighting (and it surely will), Campbell will be looking for the badasses among his players.

“Now we find out who can deliver some punishment and who can take some punishment,” Campbell said.

Campbell explained that he shared a story about fighting on the first day of padded practices when he was a rookie.

“That’s not what I’m looking for,” he said after finishing, via Kyle Meinke of “That was the point of the story.”

It’s unclear what the point really is, other than Campbell can’t wait to figure out which of his guys can be entrusted to bite kneecaps in six weeks or so. And even though he officially doesn’t want fighting, it’s clear from everything he’s said since his introductory press conference that, unofficially, he will love it.

Campbell’s words are entertaining and refreshing because so few football coaches talk like that anymore. That’s a product of the NFL’s push of the pendulum toward player health and safety. Campbell cuts against that trend, and it’s hard not to wonder whether the league office will eventually ask Campbell to stop encouraging and/or glorifying an old school, rough-and-tumble mindset that largely has been eradicated from a game that currently is played more safely than it’s ever been played.