Mobile, Ala. – Competition is deep in these scenarios, where players attempt to display their talents with limited repetitions in preparation to play in an all-star game.
Former LSU linebacker Damone Clark has a simple solution for the dilemma as he attempts to turn heads during Reese's Senior Bowl practices this week at Hancock Whitney Stadium.
"It's either you're a dog or you're not," Clark said Tuesday. "That's all it is. You've got to find a way to pop out on the screen."
That might be less of an issue for Clark than it will be for others, because as a senior for the Tigers, he almost popped off the screen.
In 12 games during the 2021 season, he totaled 135 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, three passes defensed, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. In three seasons and 24 games for the Tigers prior to that, he had 114 tackles, 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, a pass defensed and no fumble recoveries or forced fumbles.
"I thank (former LSU linebackers coach) Coach Blake Baker," Clark said. "He's at Missouri now, but just because he's at another school, I'm forever in debt to him. He helped me change my game tremendously and I'm forever grateful to him.
"It's his coaching style. Coach Baker is not a coach that just yells at you all the time and just curses at you. He understands you. He builds that relationship with you. He's hard on you but the biggest thing is just going out there and not being afraid to make mistakes. Because like he always tells me, players play and coaches coach, so just go out there and have fun and he's going to correct the things he can correct."
Clark said being at LSU prepared him for times like this, and that Tuesday's practice actually was a lighter workout than he's accustomed to.
"They're emphasizing have fun," he said of the Detroit Lions coaching staff, which is coaching the American team in the Senior Bowl. The American team will play the National team in Hancock Whitney Stadium on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. "Go out there and have fun, don't overthink anything. This week, it's a simple defense that we're running so it allows us to go out there and have fun.
"This was a fun practice today. We had much harder practices (at LSU). The (Lions) coaches didn't design for us to come out here and bang each other. It was just to come out here and compete and make each other better."
And Clark settled into a familiar leadership role, even among a team of standouts.
"I've been trained for this," he said. "I had guys (at LSU) in front of me like Devin White, Patrick Queen. Those guys showed me the way when I was a young pup, and now it's my time. The things I'm doing out here, I did back at LSU so it's nothing hard."