It happened to be a beautiful and sunny day for Saturday's practice, but one of the most underrated camp battles came from myself battling the heat and UV rays. I knew it was going to be a long day after getting kicked out of my secret shade-filled spot with a perfect view from behind the back of the end zone.
Since this is my first year at Detroit Lions training camp, I've never had a chance to go to their "Family Day" practice before, but I have to say that it's a lot of fun and I was really impressed with the amount of people who attended. I highly recommend going if you ever have the chance to bring the family and kids. There were balloon animals, face painting and a couple of giant inflatable playhouse trampolines for the kids to keep them occupied, as well as opportunities to meet the players and get autographs after practice.
A Few Standouts
As far as the practice is concerned, there were a few players who stood out from the rest. Most notably was Calvin Johnson, who continues to have arguably the best camp of his career. Johnson had the catch of the day after making a nice grab away from his body while falling to the ground in front of Darius Slay. We didn't get a chance to see Megatron play in the Lions' preseason opener, but that's one guy you don't have to worry about once the pads come on.
Nevin Lawson is another guy I've been impressed with lately. He's made some plays almost every day I've been to camp and is consistently working with the first-team defense over Josh Wilson and Quandre Diggs. It's early, but my gut is telling me that Lawson will be your starting nickel by the time the regular season rolls around.
Jermelle Cudjo has had a great camp so far and made a statement in his preseason debut with the Lions, earning the second-highest grade on defense via Pro Football Focus. He had himself another solid practice on Saturday and beat both Laken Tomlinson and Taylor Boggs in 1-on-1 drills, as well as made a couple of splash plays in team drills.
Cudjo is still likely on the outside looking in, depending on how many defensive tackles the Lions decide to keep, but he's going to give them a hard decision to make during roster cuts. I've heard several people compare Cudjo's emergence to George Johnson's last year. Keep an eye out for him.
- Alex Carter did not practice, but he's inching his way back and looks like he's getting close to returning. Joseph Fauria came back from his injury and looked a bit rusty, but he'll get there.
- There were a couple of number changes on Saturday. Linebacker Kevin Snyder is now No. 51 and Zach Zenner is No. 41. Speaking of Zenner, I thought he had a much better practice than George Winn, and if he can prove to coaches that he's serviceable on special teams, then I have to believe that he's going to win the fourth RB job.
- Cornelius Lucas received the most reps at right tackle with the first team, while Tomlinson and Manny Ramirez split reps at left guard. Michael Williams and Corey Robinson saw most of the reps at left tackle and right tackle with the twos.
- One of the most intriguing matchups in camp is watching wide receiver Andrew Peacock and cornerback Quandre Diggs line up across from each other. They both appear to match each other's talent level and get the best of each other. During 7-on-7s, Diggs made a great diving play to deflect a pass on one rep, while Peacock was able to haul in a short pass in front of Diggs a play later.
- Kellen Moore had another roller-coaster ride of a day at practice. A couple of plays that sum up his performance would be a perfect TD throw to Greg Salas in the back of the end zone and what appeared to be an unforced fumble on the very next play. Matthew Stafford also had an off day (by his standards) on Saturday. He had one throw sail way over Megatron's head (which is very hard to do). On the next drive, he threw a pass incomplete behind an open Megatron, while the next pass went in the dirt in front of an open Corey Fuller. Other than that, Stafford was his usual self.
- In general, I thought the offensive line looked great, while the defensive line didn't create a whole lot of pressure. Larry Webster is a guy I have called out quite a bit lately, and I'm still waiting to see him prove me wrong. He reportedly looked lackluster in individual drills and was hearing it from his teammates. Even with the lack of depth at defensive end, I can't say that Webster is a lock to make the roster. It's entirely possible that he lands on the practice squad, which he is still eligible for.
- Ameer Abdullah, TJ Jones and Jeremy Ross were the standouts during return drills on Saturday. If you ask me, I think the job will be decided between Jones and Ross when it's all said and done. I like Jones in that role a lot right now.
- Eric Ebron had himself another nice practice. He caught back-to-back touchdowns from Dan Orlovsky in red-zone drills, and also made a beautiful catch down the sideline on a back-shoulder throw from Stafford. He didn't drop a single pass, either, for those wondering.