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 Rookie Excels in Camp 
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Post Rookie Excels in Camp
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Lions rookie is Marshall anomaly

Goddard excels in defense, not offense


May 20, 2005
BY CURT SYLVESTER
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER



Mention Marshall University in the NFL, and the response is predictable.

"They usually say, 'That's the school that Byron or Chad or Moss went to, right?' " said Lions rookie linebacker Johnathan Goddard. "Marshall's usually offensive guys, so they're like, 'What's going on?' "

Goddard gets that response because he plays defense, not offense.

Byron Leftwich, quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars and a first-round draft pick in 2003, is the most recent of the Marshall offensive whizzes.

Before that came New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, a first-round pick in 2000.

Wide receiver Randy Moss, recently traded by Minnesota to the Oakland Raiders, started the current run of Marshall players when he was drafted in the first round in 1998.

Now Goddard is hard at work with the rest of the rookies, hoping to show the Lions that Marshall defensive players are good enough to play in the NFL, too. He already has some evidence of that.

Rogers Beckett, a second-round draft pick out of Marshall in 2000, is a strong safety with the Cincinnati Bengals, and Chris Crocker, a third-round pick in 2003, is a free safety with the Cleveland Browns.

"There are some other ones," Goddard said. "They weren't big names like Leftwich and them, but they were good players."

And their presence in the NFL is encouraging to Goddard, who has set his sights on the NFL since he began playing Pop Warner football in Jacksonville, Fla., when he was 6 years old.

"It just shows you can do it if you work hard at it," he said. "It doesn't really matter what kind of school you go to as long as you show them you can go out there and play hard, keep it going. They'll come after you."

The Lions came after Goddard, but as a sixth-round pick and the last player they drafted, he faces an uphill battle to make the team.

Although he led the nation with 16 sacks and 28 1/2 tackles for loss as a defensive end in his final season at Marshall, Goddard will have to switch to linebacker with the Lions.

At a trace taller than 6 feet and weighing in at 238 pounds, Goddard doesn't have the size to battle 350-pound offensive tackles on the line of scrimmage.

He will have to use his quickness as a linebacker and a special-teams player.

In addition, he is being thrown into competition with a solid group of promising young linebackers the Lions have put together in the past three drafts.

Goddard thinks the most difficult adjustment will be handling pass coverage assignments as an outside linebacker. He said he had occasional coverage responsibilities at Marshall, but it was always part of a designed defense.

With the Lions, he will have to make instant decisions about whether to drop into coverage or handle other responsibilities.

"There's a lot of different things you're seeing now, different things you have to look at," Goddard said. "More people to read, dropping back in coverage.

"It's a little tough. I've got a good coach -- Johnny (Holland) -- and the rest of the linebackers are helping me out to make sure I get everything. It's a big adjustment, but I think I can get through it."

If Goddard fails, it won't be because he didn't give it his best shot. He started preparing last fall at Marshall.

"I studied the game a lot more than I had in the past," he said. "That helped me a lot -- going out there knowing what's going on with the cadence and the count. That helps a lot, helps you get off the ball quick.

"That was me wanting to go to the NFL, knowing I've got to study and get better at it, get better than I was already."

And he works at it, he said, because the game means a lot to him.

"It's real important to me," he said. "It's always in my dreams. I've been playing football since I was 6. I love the game; I don't know what I'd do without it."



I always love it when an underdog makes the team.


May 20th, 2005, 5:55 am
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I would love to see him hunting opposing backs down in the backfield next season for the lions.


May 20th, 2005, 2:05 pm
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Bubbles the Lion

Joined: April 13th, 2005, 9:38 am
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DeadHeadLion wrote:
I would love to see him hunting opposing kick returners down inside the 20 next season for the lions.

fixed


May 20th, 2005, 3:51 pm
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A much more likely scenerio, and one that I will enjoy just as much.


May 20th, 2005, 4:20 pm
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lionsmack wrote:
DeadHeadLion wrote:
I would love to see him hunting opposing kick returners down inside the 20 next season for the lions.

fixed


ROTFL evil6.gif

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May 20th, 2005, 4:23 pm
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Your thread title is misleading.


May 20th, 2005, 9:14 pm
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Yeah, I would suspect we will have to wait until the preseason to see any signs of excellence. He will have to produce some monster sacks to stick on the 47.

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May 20th, 2005, 11:16 pm
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Pop Warner Allstar

Joined: August 7th, 2004, 3:09 pm
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I'm afraid that Goddard is more than likely destined for the Practice Squad. Everyone else is just that more experienced and multi-talented in the LB corps and Special teams.


May 21st, 2005, 10:46 am
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