We’re still in the very early stages of Detroit Lions’ training camp. Sunday was the team’s first practice in pads, and they still weren’t in full-contact mode yet. That being said, a few players have already exceeded expectations through three practices. Here’s a quick rundown of who impressed over the weekend.
You may think it would take a few days for a new receiver to get in sync with his new quarterback, but that wasn’t the case for Boldin. He was universally praised by every beat writer at every practice. Here’s a quick sampling from just his first practice:
Anquan Boldin’s resume compiled over 13 seasons speaks for itself, and there was no delay in putting his talents on display.
There's a lot to like about TJ Jones and Jeremy Kerley, the other candidates for that inside job, but neither boasts Boldin's physicality and experience. Detroit is probably a better team with him in the lineup, provided he stays healthy.
Boldin caught every pass within his reach during a one-on-one drill at the start of practice Friday, outmuscling Ian Wells and Quandre Diggs for balls.
By all accounts, Boldin already separated himself as the team’s No. 3 receiver and No. 1 slot option. Lions fans can expect him to be a big part of the offense in 2016.
Reiff came into this offseason with very low expectations. The Lions moved him to the right side and many believed the team was preparing for his departure next year. That seems to have motivated the fourth-year tackle, as he had a fiery aura surrounding him during the Lions’ first padded practice on Sunday. In fact, according to Jim Caldwell, Reiff reportedly broke two facemasks during practice Sunday. “ I don’t know if it was a malfunction or not,” Caldwell said. “But I told him, I said, ‘He broke two.’ But yeah, Riley is a warrior.”
For a player that was perceived to already have one foot out the door, Reiff has given himself a second life at right tackle. If he continues his play into the regular season, he may stick around with the team for longer than 2016.
Though Diggs impressed in 2015 as the slot cornerback, he had only done so over the course of the last half of the season. There were still doubts that Diggs could hold up for an entire season. However, Diggs has put most worries to rest over the first weekend of camp. Diggs was one of the most impressive players at camp on Day 2. In fact, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press noticed the Lions were using Diggs in an expanded role on Saturday.
At one point during today's open practice, Diggs played as part of a personnel grouping in the secondary that included cornerbacks Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson and safety Glover Quin. Diggs wasn't a second safety, per say, but his coverage skills could be used to supplement that position this year.
At this point, Diggs seems like a lock at the nickel corner position, but the Lions may choose to use him in other formations, as well.
After the Lions drafted Graham Glasgow in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Ikard was assumed to be on the outside looking in. Even after taking some reps with the first team in OTAs, many (myself included) wrote him off as a legit contender to make the team, let alone start. But Ikard continues to split first-team reps with Travis Swanson, while Glasgow remains mostly with the twos and threes.
It’s obviously very early in the camp competition, but if Ikard can keep Glasgow at bay, and even possibly outplay Swanson, he could justify a roster spot.
When DeAndre Levy was sent to the Non-Football Injury list, Bostic wasn’t expected to fill his shoes. However, Bostic started on Friday at the position and hasn’t given up the role in three practices. “He’s a good athlete and certainly got size and strength,” Caldwell said after Saturday’s practice. “He also understands systems pretty well quickly.”
While Bostic would never unseat a healthy DeAndre Levy in the lineup, if he continues to impress while Levy sits, it will be very hard for a team as thin at linebacker as the Lions are to cut him come September.