Warford never expected to be drafted by Detroit
Allen Park, Mich. -- When Larry Warford played at the Senior Bowl, he had no idea it would help him end up in Detroit, a place he had never been.
"I knew nothing about Detroit," Warford said with a laugh after a recent practice. "The only thing I knew, I knew the coaches. Down at the Senior Bowl, I met them, Coach Wash (offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn) and he was a great coach. I had fun and I was like, that would be cool to get coached by him.
"Honestly, I never thought I'd be drafted here and then lo and behold, I get drafted here and I thought, oh, Coach Wash is there and I was excited about that. I love working with him. He's a great coach, really patient and he knows how to work with offensive linemen so I'm really fortunate to have him."
Washburn was equally happy to have the opportunity to coach Warford again after the Lions picked him in the third round of the draft this past April.
"I loved him at the Senior Bowl and I'm so happy he's here," Washburn said. "He's got a great personality, he's fit in with the group really well and he's a good player. He was a good player in Mobile and he's shown that here."
In addition to enjoying his reunion with Washburn, Warford has been thrilled with the fan reaction since arriving in Detroit.
"From the time I got drafted, that was the first thing the coaches told me, they said the fans here are crazy about the team," Warford said. "I see that. You see all the people outside, just here to watch practice, just really excited about being around the football players. That's exciting for me. I'm happy to be here. It's a great place."
Warford, who just turned 22 July 18, hadn't been in pads since the Senior Bowl.
Now he's not only in pads, he's going up against the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Israel Idonije, Jason Jones and Ziggy Ansah every day.
"They're amazing," Warford said. "It's a ridiculous defensive line, tough and physical, they're fast. It's a great thing for me, actually the whole offensive line, to have guys like them here to practice against."
Veteran Rob Sims said Warford has done well in the early going.
"He can get in there with the first group and mix it up with us and that's good," Sims said. "Playing against some of the best guys in the league on the other side of the ball. So if he can play against them and block them, he can block anybody."
As a rookie, Warford is most likely not the front-runner to win the starting right guard job. But he has been taking some reps with the first team.
"I was excited about that," Warford said. "They told me that if I keep working, I'm going to get more reps with them. I'm happy I'm getting these reps, especially with these guys, Rob and Dom (veterans Sims and Dominic Raiola), they're just a really great asset to have."
Coach Jim Schwartz has seen Warford evolve since the Lions drafted him.
"He’s making progress," Schwartz said. "He’s a rookie, he’s very strong. There are things that he does well and there are other things that he still working on like a lot of the rookies."
Although there's urgency for the Lions to settle on an offensive line so they can jell as a unit, Sims cautions that Warford just needs to take his time.
"I just try and tell him remember what got you here, work on your technique, that's going to carry you through your career," Sims said. "Just let the game come to you. We are in hurry-up mode because we've got to get our offensive line together but you've still got to wait on your game to come to you. You've got to be patient."
Warford tries to be like a sponge around veterans like Sims, Raiola and even guys like Dylan Gandy and Jake Scott, who are also battling for the starting right guard spot.
"They're really experienced and they want to help these young guys," Warford said. "That's why I'm so fortunate to have these offensive linemen, the offensive line around me. Everybody's so helpful, they're quick to give you tips on anything, anything you need, really. They just want you to be great and do the best you can. I'm really fortunate to have them."
Although it's difficult to compete with players who have much more experience, Warford only needs to worry about himself for now.
"Just progress every day, which he's done," Washburn said. "That's all you can ask. You can't speed up the process any more than we already have. We're pushing him hard and he's taken that. He's improved every day."
Although there might be heightened expectations for a third-round draft pick, Warford isn't paying attention to those who have already said he should be starting this year.
"I appreciate it, them believing in me, but my expectations are the only ones I have to listen to," Warford said. "I have to come to practice every day just worried about getting better, just worried about having a better practice than the day before and eventually earning my spot."