Lions

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mak­ing the cor­rect plays,” Lions de­fen­sive backs/safeties coach Alan Wil­liams said Thurs­day. “Nat­u­rally if you’re look­ing at the wrong things, there’s no telling what’s the per­cent­age of you be­ing suc­cess­ful.

“Now I think (Kille­brew) has more dis­ci­plined eyes, he’s look­ing at the right things, he’s key­ing the right things. The ul­ti­mate thing again is it’s get­ting him to the ball and to the cor­rect place a lot faster be­cause his eyes are more dis­ci­plined.

“He has the tal­ent and it’s a con­fi­dence thing now. He has con­fi­dence that he’s look­ing at the cor­rect things. He has con­fi­dence that he knows the call and how to ex­e­cute the calls, so now all the phys­i­cal gifts that he has be­ing strong, be­ing big, be­ing fast, all those things are start­ing to show be­cause he knows what he’s do­ing.

“He’s look­ing at the right things rather than just guess­ing and just go­ing out there and balling.”

Last sea­son, Kille­brew, 24, carved out a niche as a third­down stop­per and played pri- mar­ily in the Lions’ dime de­fen­sive set.

Kille­brew was ef­fi­cient in his lim­ited play­ing time, reg­is­ter­ing 28 tack­les, a pass de­fensed and an in­ter­cep­tion all while av­er­ag­ing less than 10 de­fen­sive snaps per game.

This year, it ap­pears Kille­brew is poised to play an ex­panded role, as ev­i­denced by his ca­reer-high 29 de­fen­sive snaps in the opener.

“Year 1 and Year 2 you see a big jump. You get more com­fort­able, you un­der­stand the game more, you un­der­stand your scheme more,” safety Glover Quin said of Kille­brew. “You’re just see­ing those things, see­ing him be more of who he is. We know he’s a play­maker. He’s get­ting op­por­tu­ni­ties and he’s do­ing just that.”

And Kille­brew’s in­creas­ing fa­mil­iar­ity with the ter­mi­nol­ogy and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Teryl Austin’s sys­tem has trans­lated into him mov­ing faster, play­ing faster and bring­ing the de­fense’s motto to fruition — be in the right place at the right time and when the op­por­tu­nity present it­self, makes the play you’re sup­posed to make.

He proved that on the third­down stop of Gre­sham by sticking to his as­sign­ment as well as be­ing in po­si­tion to cor­ral the tipped ball that led to his pro­fes­sional touch­down.

“Coach TA, he does a very good job of ex­plain­ing what we’re try­ing to get done each week, so you go into the game with a good idea of what our goals are and what we need to ac­com­plish for that game,” Kille­brew said. “I trust the scheme that he has. This is my sec­ond year in the sys­tem, so I can see how it’s all com­ing to­gether and it’s ex­cit­ing to watch. It’s ex­cit­ing to be a part of.”

The next step for Kille­brew is con­sis­tency.

Ac­cord­ing to Wil­liams, Kille­brew mod­els him­self af­ter Quin, who is a prime ex­am­ple the key to con­sis­tency on the field is con­sis­tent prepa­ra­tion off the field in how one stud­ies, lifts weights and watches film.

So far, Kille­brew ap­pears to be on the right track.

Now it’s just a mat­ter of those im­pact plays show­ing up on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“It was a good start, but it’s just the start,” Wil­liams said. “He can take it as far as he wants to take it by his prepa­ra­tion. He has the gifts. How far he goes, that’s yet to be seen, but we like our chances with him.”

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Daniel Mears/Detroit News

The sec­ond in­ter­cep­tion of Lions safety Miles Kille­brew’s ca­reer was re­turned for a touch­down in the fourth quar­ter and put the fin­ish­ing touches on the Lions’ 35-23 vic­tory over the Car­di­nals.

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