The Detroit Lions' first week of training camp is complete. The team held six practices, including a mock game on Saturday, and now they will get ready to set their sights on their preseason opener against the New York Jets on Thursday. In the meantime, let's examine five takeaways from the first week of practice:
1. Ameer Abdullah is on track to have an immediate starting-caliber role
Based on how Jim Caldwell operates, Joique Bell will probably be the official starter at running back once he is activated from the PUP list, but Ameer Abdullah seems to be making the most of all the No. 1 reps he's getting. At the very least, Abdullah has given the coaches a long look at what he can do as more than just a change-of-pace back, and he's on track to have a major role in the offense from Day 1 of the season. The overall number of touches may still end up being split pretty evenly between Bell and Abdullah, but Abdullah could emerge as the top player at running back much sooner than initially anticipated.
2. The injury situation isn't bad, but it's not great, either
All things considered, the Lions have had pretty good injury luck so far simply because no serious, season-ending injuries have happened. However, there are some minor injuries that have been a bit frustrating. Haloti Ngata and rookie Alex Carter have yet to practice thanks to injuries suffered before training camp even began, for example, and DeAndre Levy and Joseph Fauria have both missed the last few days with "tweaks." Now, players like Ngata and Levy don't exactly need to be on the field for every single rep in camp given their veteran status, and it's better to be safe than sorry in terms of taking your time with injuries. However, when you add all of those players to a list of injuries that also includes Bell, LaAdrian Waddle and Jason Jones, it becomes clear that a lot of key contributors are currently banged up and unable to participate in practice.
3. The Lions are taking it slow with Laken Tomlinson
As expected, first-round pick Laken Tomlinson isn't simply being handed the starting left guard job. In fact, veteran Manny Ramirez has taken the bulk of the first-team reps at that spot thus far. Perhaps that's a sign that Ramirez has the edge in that particular position battle, but this seems like another case of the Lions taking things slowly with a rookie offensive guard. Back in 2013, Larry Warford actually spent a lot of time practicing with the third-team offense at the start of camp, and it took basically the entire preseason for him to emerge as the starting right guard. Once he did, he had one of the best seasons of any right guard in the league, and I feel like Tomlinson is on a similar path with how the Lions have divided up the reps at left guard this summer.
4. There isn't much clarity with the defensive position battles yet
The Lions have starting spots up for grabs at positions like defensive tackle and nickel cornerback, and they have backup spots up for grabs at basically every defensive position. So far, though, it's tough to get a great read on which players have emerged in their respective position battles. At defensive tackle, for example, does Tyrunn Walker or Caraun Reid have the edge to start alongside Ngata? Considering Ngata has been out and both Walker and Reid have received starting reps, neither player has a clear edge right now. At nickel cornerback, meanwhile, the Lions have taken a look at Josh Wilson, Quandre Diggs, Nevin Lawson and even Isa Abdul-Quddus so far. With so many players getting an opportunity to show what they can do, it's still too early to name anybody the clear favorite at this point.
5. Practice can only give us so much information
As nice as it is to have some form of football back, the real fun begins when the Lions get to line up against another team. At that point, we'll get a better idea of what the Lions' depth chart really looks like, and players will have a chance to show what they can do in an actual game situation. For a lot of players, the preseason is merely an opportunity to continue shaking off the rust, but a lot of guys will either solidify their case for a roster spot or show that they probably don't belong. For the Lions, that first opportunity for an actual game will come on Thursday at Ford Field against the Jets.