The Detroit Lions concluded their organized team activities on Friday, leaving next week’s mandatory minicamp the only set of practice between now and training camp. Without pads on, it’s hard to draw too many conclusions from Detroit’s three-week program—especially with the media only attending three out of 10 sessions—but we still learned a few things about this team.
The only real piece of news that can come with OTAs is injury news, and unfortunately the Lions were not immune this year. The injury to Taylor Decker is devastating by any stretch of the imagination. It doesn’t mean that Detroit’s season is over or even that the Lions need to trade away the future to get someone aboard while Decker heals, but it does take one of their biggest strengths off the board for at least one month of the regular season.
Elsewhere, Theo Riddick’s wrist injuries appear to be much more serious than originally thought. While he participated in some individual drills and was seen working on the sidelines, he’s also sporting a pretty big brace on his arm.
The Lions’ most risky picks are paying off early
When the Detroit Lions selected Teez Tabor in the second round and Kenny Golladay in the third of the 2017 NFL Draft, there were plenty of skeptics out there. Tabor’s extremely poor measurements at the NFL Combine and his own pro day were enough for some to completely disregard his impressive game tape. Golladay, on the other hand, was a bit raw and underdeveloped as a route runner.
Well, the—very—early returns are in, and both had an impressive set of practices at OTAs. Golladay drew the attention of the Lions media several times over the course of three practices, with most mentioning his excellent hands and ability to fight for the ball.
With Tabor, it took a little while to generate buzz, as he was a limited participant out of the gate because of his hamstring issue. However, in the final week of OTAs, he really broke out. On Tuesday, he notched his first interception, then followed it up with another one later in the week. MLive’s Kyle Meinke said of Tabor’s performance this week, “(he) showed some impressive physicality and ball-hawking ability.”
Tight end drops
In all three practices opened to the public, at least one beat writer reported of issues with the tight ends dropping passes. For a player like Eric Ebron, who already has a reputation for dropping passes, this is sort of an unsettling thing to hear. But Ebron wasn’t the only culprit. Darren Fells and Michael Roberts were also seen dropping passes over the last three weeks. Hopefully these guys are just getting acclimated to football again and the problem doesn’t persist.
Alex Carter has a real chance to make the roster
When the Lions drafted Teez Tabor and Jamal Agnew just a month after nabbing DJ Hayden in free agency, Alex Carter’s career in Detroit seemed dead. However, the Lions wisely chose to move him to safety during OTAs this year, and Carter could theoretically work his way onto the roster with limited competition there.
The 2015 third-round pick has still yet to make the field for a single defensive snap in his two-year career. Although that is partially due to injury, it’s hard to see Carter’s career as anything but a disappointment so far. And while Carter still has a long ways to go to climb his way up the depth chart at safety, it’s nice to see the Lions try to make room for him on the roster. Carter is still just 22 years old and many believed his skills out of college best fit as a safety anyways.
Jared Abbrederis is leading the No. 4 WR competition
While reports mostly had TJ Jones running with the first-team offense, it was Jared Abbrederis who turned heads at nearly every one of the Lions’ practices. We noted three separate highlight-reel catches from Abbrederis during OTAs.
However, Abbrederis’ best quality may be his crisp route-running.
“The guy’s a really good route runner,” head coach Jim Caldwell said last week. “Very, very good just in terms of his ability to find open areas.”
His sentiments were echoed by offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter this week. “I think he runs routes the way you kind of want him to as a coordinator,” Cooter said.
When the Lions added Jared Abbrederis back in January, he was just one of nine little-known names noted in a single Detroit Lions press release announcing future contracts. Now it appears he’s in the midst of a competitive camp battle.