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LB Rocky Boiman getting crash course in Detroit Lions defensive system

Rocky Boiman isn't going to get a chance to ease his way into the Detroit Lions' defense.

It's going to be more like cramming for final exams in his days at Notre Dame.

The veteran linebacker signed with the Detroit Lions earlier in the week and is scheduled to play in Thursday's final preseason game against Buffalo.

"We didn't bring him in here to stand around," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Tuesday. "He's here to play. We expect him to be out there against the Bills."

Learning an NFL scheme in three days sounds like an overwhelming task, especially for a middle linebacker who will be responsible for defensive calls, but Boiman has an advantage.

The 30-year-old started his career with the Titans, with Schwartz as his defensive coordinator and Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham as his position coach. Then he later played for the Chiefs when Cunningham was the defensive coordinator.

"He knows the scheme and he knows the terminology," Schwartz said. "That will help him a lot."

Boiman's history with Schwartz and Cunningham is the reason he was called to Detroit this week. The Lions were already struggling with inexperience at linebacker before injuries to DeAndre Levy, expected to start in the middle, and Jordon Dizon, his main backup.

"We worked Rocky out before training camp, and he did a nice job, so we knew he was in shape," Schwartz said. "We kept him in mind in case we ended up in this kind of situation, where we found ourselves short-handed late in camp. He was a guy that we knew we could fit into the system fairly quickly."

That doesn't mean Boiman is having an easy week.

"Learning this is going to take every waking minute I have before the game," he said. "And there's still going to be stuff I don't know."

Boiman won a Super Bowl ring with Indianapolis in 2006, but has bounced around the league in the past two seasons.

"I've been in Cincinnati, my hometown, just trying to stay in shape and waiting for someone to call," he said. "I knew I had a really good workout with the Lions before camp started, and I have a comfort level with coach Schwartz and coach Cunningham, so this was a good place for me to land."

Boiman also brings versatility, which will help him after Levy returns from a groin injury.

"He's a guy that we can use in the middle or on the outside, plus he can play special teams," Schwartz said. "That's what you need from that part of the roster."

Boiman said he doesn't have a preference, since he's never had a chance to settle at one linebacker spot.

"My whole career, I've been bouncing around from one position to another, so that's what I'm used to doing," he said.