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Jim Caldwell expects rookie LB Jarrad Davis to 'be a factor' for Lions

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- He usually lined up second or third Friday afternoon during individual drills -- not the first one out there, but not the last, either. That’s where the Detroit Lions chose to place their first-round pick, their potential starting middle linebacker, Jarrad Davis, during the first day of rookie minicamp.

This is a chance for Davis to learn, to start to become acclimated to a professional environment and the pace of an NFL practice. Soon enough, he’ll likely be expected to do it at a faster pace with veterans around him when OTAs begin later this month.

And by then, he might be settling into his projected role as Detroit’s starting middle linebacker, too. Lions coach Jim Caldwell didn’t want to give away too much about Davis’ potential role this season other than that the franchise expects he’ll have one.

“We expect him to be a factor for us,” Caldwell said. “Smart guy. Has got ability. Can run, hit, et cetera. I think he’ll help us, help us quickly.”

If Davis ends up being Detroit’s middle linebacker, that’ll potentially move veteran Tahir Whitehead, who manned the middle linebacker spot for Detroit last season, into a competition at WILL with free-agent signing Paul Worrilow, fourth-round pick Jalen Reeves-Maybin and others.

Whitehead has played all three linebacker spots at various points during his Lions career, so he’s shown the versatility to be able to handle any assignment, but for now, Detroit is trying to figure the best spot out for all of its new -- and old -- players.

“It’s like anything else, you try to put them in the best spot possible that you think where they could fit,” Caldwell said. “Nowadays, when you have so much nickel in the ballgame, those guys are really flexible in terms of the position they are going to play.”