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Campbell: Lions need top defenders 'to be reliable'

Rey Del Rio / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he expects more from his top defensive players following Sunday's 37-31 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

"We're not winning our one-on-ones," Campbell said about Detroit's pass rush. "You can really say some of that in the back end, too. The guys that have their one-on-ones, we gotta win those. Defensively, we need our most reliable players to be reliable. That was a big thing that came out of that game. It certainly looks and tastes a lot worse when you lose that game, but ultimately, you can argue we spotted them 14 points on offense, and that's hard on your defense."

Campbell didn't specifically name any players, saying "they know who they are."

The 47-year-old coach added: "I just expect more. I expect more reliability out of those guys."

Detroit allowed 57 points combined in its first two games this season while recording just one sack. It's also only forced one turnover this year.

The NFC North club upset the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium 21-20 in Week 1. The Lions led the Seahawks 21-14 in the third quarter but were unable to keep that lead, and quarterback Jared Goff threw a pick-6 in the fourth quarter.

"The picks will come. … It's more about us forcing them," Campbell said. "The way we hit, we bite the ball, we gotta get strips, we have to make a conscious effort. These are things we work in practice, but if you want it, you gotta emphasize it. So what we're emphasizing is not being emphasized. So we gotta go back, and there's gotta be a different way to do it."

The Lions, who've aggressively addressed their defense in recent years, also had a bottom-five unit in the first two seasons under Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who both joined the club in 2021.

After drafting edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson second overall in 2022, Detroit used a first-round pick on linebacker Jack Campbell and a second-round selection on defensive back Brian Branch this year. The club also signed safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and cornerback Cameron Sutton in free agency.

The Lions host the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3.

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