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Lions still mum on whether new DC Cory Undlin will call plays

John Jones/Icon Sportswire

MOBILE, Ala. -- New Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin has been in a bit of a whirlwind for the past week. Get a promotion. Go to Detroit to meet his new colleagues. Get on a plane to fly to Mobile, Alabama, to coach in the Senior Bowl with the rest of the Lions staff as part of his new role as defensive coordinator.

It has been a lot. It also has left little time, he said, to solidify certain aspects of what will happen this year with the Lions' defense. Apparently that includes who will call plays this fall -- head coach Matt Patricia or Undlin, the first-time coordinator.

“We’ll talk about that and we’ll figure it out,” Undlin said Tuesday. "... I’m here right now, and whatever that ends up being, that’s what it’s going to be. Whether I call them all the time, whether he calls them. I have no idea. I will tell you this, whatever it is, I’m here.”

Patricia also brushed off the question, saying they are just starting to transition into next season and he is trying to collect good coaches at this point -- “you can get into game plans and schemes and the rest of it; we’ll deal with that when we get into it.”

In the meantime, Undlin is still learning the defensive roster, and when the team returns from the Senior Bowl to do its end-of-season evaluations, he’ll get a better grasp on the defense he’s inheriting.

He has coached at a multitude of places in the NFL, from New England -- where he met Patricia while sharing and sleeping in the same office -- to Cleveland, Jacksonville, Denver and Philadelphia. He has coached in a 3-4, a 4-3 under and a base 4-3. And he’s quick to point out more and more nickel is becoming the base defense anyway.

And if his overall philosophy sounds familiar -- flexible by the week and dependent on who the opposing offensive line is and quarterback is -- it should. It’s familiar to what Patricia would like to do and also similar to the type of offense Patricia wanted when he hired Darrell Bevell a year ago -- be able to be malleable in scheme to exploit the opponent.

“I think our defense is different every year based on the players we have,” Patricia said. “That’s what I would maybe say is unique for our defense as opposed to some other philosophies, where it’s trying to fit the players into the scheme as opposed to trying to figure out the players that we have and fit them into a scheme that works for us that week or that way.”

Undlin didn’t want to get into many specifics, but he knows the type of defense he wants.

“It’s going to be full of guys that play with their hair on fire, that love being out there on every snap, and then guys that know what to do,” Undlin said. “That’s it. Without getting into the scheme aspect of it. We’ll figure out the scheme when we get back there. But they are going to like what they see when they go out there.”