Former University of Kentucky offensive lineman Larry Warford was on the field for a team-high 53 offensive snaps in his first NFL pre-season game with the Detroit Lions on Friday night.
"He's a young guy that doesn't have very much experience, and the way the game went, we were able to get him maybe just a little bit more (reps) than some of the other guys," Coach Jim Schwartz said.
Warford told The Detroit News that he thought his first game went well.
"I felt like I went out there, competed really good and got the win, so I'm pretty excited about that," he said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Warford, a third-round draft pick who played in high school at Madison Central, is trying to win the Lions' starting job at right guard.
"I'm just happy to be here," Warford said. "I just want one of the spots. If it's the right guard spot, that's just a lucky coincidence for me. That's what I played in college, and I'm pretty good at it. But if I can get any left guard, that would be great, too."
Warford got a good review from veteran guard Rob Sims, one of his teammates.
"He's definitely a good player," Sims said. "Now it's just about learning how to manage a game. He's got all the tools to be good."
Warford told The Detroit News that Friday's game — a 26-17 victory against the New York Jets — helped him gauge his development because it was his first chance to play against someone other than his teammates.
"I just found more confidence in where I'm at as a football player," he said. "When you're in practice, it's really hard to evaluate yourself because you're going against the same people every day. They kind of learn your tendencies and learn who you are as a player, and it's a lot tougher than it should be, really.
"It tested my mettle against different opponents whom I've never played against. It really helped me be more confident in myself."
Warford hopes his coaches came away pleased with his performance.
"I think coaches got a good look at how I can perform against other teams," he said. "I think they're happy with what I did overall."
Warford said he has come a long way since joining the Lions. Warford told MLive.com that he transformed his diet and worked out with former Pro Bowl guard LeCharles Bentley in the off-season.
"During OTAs, I was pretty weak mentally," Warford told the website. "I was overwhelmed with a lot of stuff that was being thrown at me. I didn't really have a break from football after college. You just go off to train for the combine. My brain was just mush by that time."
Warford told MLive.com that his coaches had to counsel him to get over his mistakes and learn from playing in practice against the team's star defensive linemen — Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
"You can't let one play beat you twice," Warford said. "You're going to be playing timid for the rest of the game if you let it shake you that much."
Warford said he still has plenty to learn during the rest of the pre-season.
"This is the time you can fix those things and get ready for the season," he said.