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Former Gilman standout Brandon Copeland signs with Detroit Lions, eager to prove himself

Former Gilman standout Brandon Copeland, a Sykesville native, has signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions.

Copeland visited five teams, including the Lions, choosing the NFC North franchise over the Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets.

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The former Ravens linebacker joins a Lions team coached by Jim Caldwell, the former Ravens offensive coordinator. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is a former Ravens secondary coach.

"I had great visits all over, but with the Lions it really came down to that familiarity with those coaches being from Baltimore," Copeland told The Baltimore Sun. "I had a great feeling when I left there. I know there are opportunities everywhere, but their Ravens roots gave me a great feeling. I'm looking forward to getting started.

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"All of them were great opportunities with great coaching staff. I literally couldn't have gone wrong. I'm happy I made the decision I made to go to Detroit."

The former Ravens linebacker ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds at the recent NFL veteran combine in Arizona.

Copeland said he posted a 37-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot-7 broad jump while training with Troy Jones at TZ Sports in Eldersburg.

"It's crazy how a couple of weeks can change some things," said Copeland, an All-Ivy League selection at Penn. "I looked at the veteran combine as a chance to rewrite what I could have done a couple of years ago. Everything took shape the way that it did.

"I've been telling my friends my biggest goal now is to turn the page on this chapter and move forward and make sure that this buzz, this nice moment after the combine, to make sure that it's not the pinnacle of my career. I want to show everyone that the little buzz and hype and success is warranted."

Down to 246 pounds after entering the NFL with the Ravens as a 260-pound converted defensive end, Copeland said he feels much faster now two years removed from tearing his meniscus before signing with the Ravens in 2013.

"I'm at a better weight," said Copeland, who was released by the Ravens after training camp as a rookie. "I'm more explosive now. Everything is perfect."

Copeland said that while he was traveling to visit teams, he would work out at his hotel gym as soon as he landed.

"When I went to the combine in Arizona, I took a red-eye flight back to Baltimore and I got 30 minutes of sleep, went home, changed, showered and went right to the gym," Copeland said. "My trainer, Troy Jones, he knows I'm not changing."

Signed by the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League this year, Copeland was on the Tennessee Titans' practice squad last year before being released. He subsequently tried out for the Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers but wasn't signed.

"The fire in me is burning even brighter now," Copelan said. "I'm more hungry now than I've ever been. I got the second chance. It's like life after death. I want to make sure I do everything in my power to make it right this time."

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