DETROIT (BVM) – As the Detroit Lions celebrated their first win of the 2022 season, a 36-27 victory over the Washington Commanders at home, head coach Dan Campbell turned to Dan Skipper and had one thing to say.
“Hey Skip! Nice freaking job man,” Campbell said to offensive lineman in the locker room.
The entire locker room burst into cheers and started chanting ‘Skip’ as the six-year veteran took in the moment. Sunday against the Commanders, Skipper got his first career start after bouncing around practice squads since he went undrafted out of Arkansas in 2017.
“It’s my sixth year in the league and I’ve never made a team,” Skipper said. “It’s tough, you go in and you’re just never quite good enough. You’re not quite enough. You show up everyday and you think you’re doing the right things and just for whatever reason it just doesn’t quite work out.”
He told reporters he has had 20 contracts during that time, most of which were “not worth the paper they’re written on,” according to Skipper.
It didn’t work out this season either. Skipper was cut following training camp with the Detroit Lions and once again joined the Detroit Lions practice squad. This is his third stint with the Lions after spending some time in Detroit during 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
However, the Lions offensive line has been ravaged by injuries. Even though there were younger options available, Campbell opted to go with the 6-foot-9, 330-pound fifth string lineman. Skipper hadn’t played guard since he was a freshman at Arkansas but he was getting a shot in his first career start at left guard because the Lions trusted him.
“We trust him, I trust him,” Campbell said to the media following the game. “He’s a battler. He’s not going to go in the tank if something happens.”
Skipper understood the offense from his second stint in Detroit and first during the Campbell era. He also embodies what Campbell and the Lions are all about. Skipper approaches his job everyday with the same mentality: go in, give it your best and put the work in. Through the highs and lows of a six-year career, he has never faltered from that workmen-like mentality.
“That’s part of what this gig is about, just show up everyday, put your hard hat on, go to work and good things happen,” Skipper said.
That’s why, when the team realized on Thursday that starting left guard Jonah Jackson wasn’t going to be able to play, Skipper was ready for his moment. The team trusted him and wasn’t going to lose that trust.
“It’s huge,” Skipper said about the Lions’ trust in him. “You know trust is a funny thing, it takes years to build and seconds to break. I’m just trying to put my best foot ahead everyday and I think this roster, that’s all we’re trying to do.”
Skipper didn’t lose that trust on Sunday. The Lions offensive was firing on all cylinders, rushing for 191 yards and getting another 234 yards through the air.
“At the end of the day we go out there, get a win, that’s all that matters,” Skipper said.
That’s not to take away from how special the moment was for Skipper. With his family in the stands he got his first start and helped his team get the win.
“It’s been such a long road, six teams, been cut all over just having my wife and kids here and everything else it really comes full circle,” Skipper said. “It’s hard to explain, it kind of makes everything all worth it. All the chaos, the trials, having them here and playing, it’s the cherry on top.”
After 20 contracts in six years, Skipper made the most of his moment. The Arkansas Razorback from Arvada, Colorado started in the NFL, helped his team get a win and was celebrated by his team afterwards. Now it’s time to go back to work.