22,992 Lions fans came to Ford Field last night to get the first live look at a new team. The new coach, new quarterback, and new hopes of winning all brought out the fans. I was very surprised to see how many people actually were in attendance. When the gates opened at 5:00 p.m., there were lines backed-up into the street. Once inside of Ford Field, there were just more lines. All of the famous Lions alumni were there to sign autographs. Herman Moore and Greg Landry were among some of the signers (pictured after the jump, Landry in white, Moore in red). The biggest was for Barry Sanders, which is probably obvious. Everyone was just trying to get a look at him. I've gotta say, he looks like he could still be playing.
Making it down to the seating area, the lower bowl on each side was pretty filled. The endzone seats had a few openings, but for the most part, the lower bowl was pretty packed. Once the Lions took the field and got through all of their stretches, it was time to move onto some drills.
The drill I paid the most attention to was the wide receivers just going down the field and trying to bring in a throw. The best catch of the entire practice happened during this drill. Wide receiver and fan favorite Roy Williams went up with one hand and snagged an errant throw out of the air. The crowd just went into a roar.
After individual position drills, the actual scrimmage-type practice began. It wasn't a scrimmage persay, but it was the offense and defense running plays against each other. Most of the plays were non-contact, where if you were about to tackle someone, you just touched them instead to signal the end of a play.
Plays were run a few times, then every now and then the Lions would punt or kickoff. A few times the ball was placed on the offense's own one-yard line, and on every play from that spot it was a minimal gain. The first kickoff was taken by Shaun Bodiford and was returned for a touchdown which erupted the crowd. First thought would think that he's got some moves, but it turns out everyone would come close to scoring on the kickoffs since it was a non-contact drill. Shaun Bodiford did make another great player however. On a punt the ball appeared that it was going to land in the endzone, but Bodiford made a diving catch to keep it on the one-yard line.
Towards the end of the scrimmage the Lions ran a two-minute drill type of drive at least five or so times. Jon Kitna took the helm on the first few drives, but when Kitna went off the field to give the backups a chance, Dan Orlovsky was the quarterback. I would've thought Josh McCown would've come onto the field next, but he didn't see much playing time at all during these drills. I wouldn't speculate too much because it was probably just the way things rotated, but it's something to keep note of.
Overall, I had a great time seeing the new-look Lions and cannot wait for the season to start. It was very interesting to see all of the new players and coaches, and really get an idea of what to expect for the '06 season. Friday is the first preseason game, and on those first drives with the starters in, we'll see if this practice paid off.
NOTES FROM THE BLACK & BLUE SCRIMMAGE
- Of the players that didn't participate, I saw Eddie Drummond and Shaun Cody out on the field in street clothes. Both were walking around the field and talking with teammates during the opening drills.
- Kevin Jones saw a lot of action during the scrimmage. Since it was non-contact for most of the practice, he got to participate in most of the plays run. It didn't appear that his quad contusion affected his ability very much, so that's good news.
- Charles Rogers suffered a nasty hit when he went up for a catch in the fact of where the hit occurred. When in the air, going for the ball, a defender came and appeared to have tripped, and fell right into Rogers' leg. Rogers was on the ground, but walked off the field under his own power. Also, after practice he was hardly limping, so it probably just stung at the point of impact.
- During a drill with the offensive and defensive lineman, defensive tackle Bryant Shaw went down and had to be carted off the field. It appeared to be something serious with his leg, so we'll have to see what becomes of that.
- Second round draft pick Daniel Bullocks had a pretty nice interception during one of the drills. He came out of nowhere and just got in front of the receiver to get the INT.
- Roy Williams made at least two or three amazing catches during passing plays that showed he was the fan favorite. Every time he made a big play the crowd cheered very loudly for him.
- Of the 22,992 at the Lions scrimmage, I'd say a quarter of them made their way over to Comerica Park for the Tigers-Indians game. Not all had a ticket either. There were thousands of people around Comerica standing on the gates just trying to get a look inside the stadium.
I took lots of pictures at the scrimmage last night, and to view all of them, click read more.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them to the full size. Sorry for the blurriness on some of the pics, I'm still getting used to the new camera.