Thursday's practice was noticeably slower than previous practices, and it probably had a lot to do with the coaches wanting to take it down a notch after practicing the previous night. The offensive and defensive linemen were particularly tough to spot due to them being off on the far corner of the field during individual drills, and they even made it difficult to watch for those near the endzone, as the team practiced closer to the opposite side of the field. But we here at Pride Of Detroit want to provide you as much content as possible, so we worked through it and took as many notes as possible. Here are your observations from Thursday's practice at Allen Park.
Good news for Jake Rudock fans: He looked much better today and put in a few solid reps during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. He also put the ball on the ground more than any other QB, but at least now I can say that he was just mostly bad instead of completely bad. Dan Orlovsky still has the edge over him for now, but Rudock has plenty of time to gain some ground, especially if he keeps improving.
Of the few plays that Rudock stood out, he threw a beautiful comeback timing route to Damian Copeland right in front of me on the sideline and hit Zach Zenner in stride through a tight window on the very next play.
Theo Riddick was back at practice for the second straight day and even got a few looks running straight up the gut in 11-on-11s. One of the big questions heading into the regular season will be whether Riddick gets some real looks as a running back, and not just a receiving back.
I thought the running backs looked particularly solid today, and that includes everyone. Stevan Ridley surprised me the most and looked a lot faster and quicker than he did during Monday's practice. He also got plenty of reps with the first-team offense while Ameer Abdullah took a break (he's still wearing a no contact jersey for now) and even saw some looks on special teams; his chances to make the team would be greatly helped if he could add some value there.
Dwayne Washington also put in a few good reps and returned a few kicks. He has some burst as a runner, but has a bad habit of hesitating in the open field. Overall, he looked fairly explosive and quick when hitting the hole.
Zenner returned a few kicks, which is something I haven't seen before. I don't expect him to be a returner when it's all said and done, but that definitely caught my eye.
I tell ya, this wide receiver battle is going to be back and forth throughout the entire month. On Monday, it was Jay Lee, Quinshad Davis and TJ Jones that really stood out from the crowd, but during Thursday's practice I felt that Andre Roberts and Andre Caldwell had the best showing. Almost every time I looked up, these two had the ball in their hands.
Golden Tate caught a quick pass from Matthew Stafford during two-minute drills and nearly put Rafael Bush in the hospital after a nasty juke to the inside. That was one of the more exciting moments during a mostly dull practice.
Nothing but great things to say about Anquan Boldin again. He made an impressive one-handed catch away from his body, and as Kent Platte pointed out to me during practice, it seems like the QBs are almost trying to give him tough balls to catch to try and test him. He's a ton of fun to watch.
Cole Wick is listed at 6-foot-6, but looks closer to one or two inches shorter. Still, with Brandon Pettigrew out, he has capitalized on every opportunity he's been given. In the two practices I've gone to, I don't remember him dropping a single pass. Same goes for Eric Ebron. Wick's movement and quickness during his routes aren't in the same universe as Ebron, but he looks like he can be a reliable option in two-TE sets. Expect him to get no more than 15 catches on the year should he make the team.
Orson Charles is clearly behind Matthew Mulligan and Wick at this point in time. He even got lost and almost ran into Wick who was the intended target on the play. Not a good look for the TE wearing a No. 44 jersey.
The biggest takeaway here is that Graham Glasgow finally had the opportunity to get some reps with the second-team offense while Gabe Ikard worked with the threes. Glasgow is still raw, but I thought he did an okay job, while Ikard looked very impressive with the threes and stuffed A'Shawn Robinson with ease when they were matched up.
The first team offense remained the same with Taylor Decker, Laken Tomlinson, Travis Swanson, Larry Warford and Riley Reiff from left to right. I'd expect that to be the starting lineup during Week 1 unless Ikard manages to win the job from Swanson.
After a rough 2015 campaign, Warford looks closer to his old self. He's moving well and holds up great at the point of attack. I specifically remember him giving Haloti Ngata the business, driving him away from the action.
Something that I probably never would have anticipated coming into training camp was seeing Khyri Thornton getting first-team reps with the defense, but man... he is one massive human being, and it makes sense when you pair him with a quick 3-tech like Caraun Reid. I expect to see Ngata get more first-team reps in the place of Thornton in the future, but I'd recommend that you keep an eye on Thornton during preseason action. His stock is on the rise.
Today was also the first time I was able to see Robinson in person and I have to say that he is even larger than advertised. He is a mountain of a man. On one rep that I saw of him versus the third-team offense, he got a little top-heavy and fell flat on his face. He's going to play a part for the Lions' defense this year, but expect some ups and downs from him. After all, he is a rookie.
Not a whole lot to report on the linebackers today. DeAndre Levy is still unable to practice and the linebacker drills weren't visible from our vantage point. The only play that stood out was a tipped ball by Tahir Whitehead from Stafford that led to an interception.
The Lions still seem to lack speed from their linebackers. During team drills, Stafford completed a short pass to Ebron, who broke free from Jon Bostic and ran up the sideline for what would have been a huge gain in a real game.
While the defensive backs were running zig-zag patterns in pairs of twos, Carter was the only DB that looked clunky with his movements and completely out of sync with the others. He is so sluggish with his movements and slower than the rest of his teammates. I know he's essentially a rookie, but a move to safety may be in his best interest.
Carter also got some reps with the first team. When I saw him lineup across from Tate, I felt nervous for Carter's safety. Luckily the ball wasn't thrown his way, because Tate was open fairly quick.
Not only does Johnson Bademosi have one of the coolest names on the roster, but he looked very smooth in DB drills, especially for a 6-foot, 200-plus pound corner. I'm not sure how high his chances are to make the roster, but he's definitely someone to keep an eye on. Same goes for Ian Wells, who could be a favorite to land on the practice squad.
Your starting safeties will be Glover Quin and Rafael Bush. Despite spending a fourth-round pick on Miles Killebrew, he's just not ready yet, and Bush seems to be the clear-cut favorite right now.
Special team ace Don Carey was back at practice and working with the kick coverage unit. He's likely a favorite to make the final 53-man roster due to his ability on special teams.
Nothing new here. Don Muhlbach has the edge over Jimmy Landes when it comes to snapping footballs. He has much more velocity on his snaps and is more consistent with his placement. With that being said, I thought Landes did a better job of keeping the ball off the ground on Thursday.