The Detroit Lions broke from mandatory minicamp on Thursday afternoon, kicking off a month-long break for the players until the team reconvenes for training camp in late July. Now that the Lions have finished both OTAs and minicamp, it’s time to recap the past month and see what we’ve learned about the team. Here are five things we’ve learned from mandatory minicamp.
The Lions were not happy with their in-house left tackle options
When Taylor Decker was injured two weeks ago, the Lions didn’t appear to panic. Over the course of five or six practices, the Lions attempted to use Joe Dahl and Cornelius Lucas as the first-team left tackle. They didn’t make any immediate, drastic moves to compensate for the loss of Decker.
However, that all changed this week. After getting a good look at their current situation, the Lions decided to add two legitimate options to fill Decker’s role in Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio. These additions set the stage for what should be a very dramatic left tackle competition in training camp.
We counted out Quandre Diggs too early
When the Lions added DJ Hayden, Jamal Agnew and Teez Tabor, suddenly it seemed like Quandre Diggs, who took a big step down in 2016, was doomed to be a roster cut in September.
However, throughout OTAs and minicamp, Diggs has maintained his spot as the first-team nickel cornerback throughout. Diggs also had a breakout performance in practice on Tuesday when he made an impressive interception in the corner of the endzone against Marvin Jones Jr. (you can see the interception at the 26 second mark here).
Expect the position battle to heat up in training camp and throughout the preseason, but for now, Diggs is still holding strong.
Kenny Golladay hype train is here to stay
Every year, it seems like there is one training camp darling that gets positive reports nearly every day of practice. Theo Riddick became notorious for having an incredible amount of hype each offseason until it finally came to fruition in the 2015 season. Thus, the Theo Riddick Hype Train was born.
Well, a new train has pulled into the station and his name is Kenny Golladay. Golladay built upon impressive OTA practices with a good week of mandatory minicamp. He had the play of the day on Tuesday, hauling in a bomb over rookie Jamal Agnew by using his big body and long arms to his advantage.
The backup quarterback battle isn’t quite a battle yet
The Detroit Lions surprised some by taking Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Detroit seemed pleased with the progress Jake Rudock made last year—enough to promote him from the practice squad late in the season. However, when Detroit drafted Kaaya, it immediately brought that into question.
Kaaya earned some high praise early in the week from his head coach. “He has the temperament. He has the intellect. He has the drive and desire. He has the personality for it. He also has the arm talent,” Jim Caldwell said.
Unfortunately for Kaaya, that didn’t show in his Wednesday performance. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press called him “off target.” MLive’s Kyle Meinke said he “is decidedly behind Jake Rudock.” ESPN’s Michael Rothstein said Rudock “looks to be pretty far ahead of” Kaaya.
There is still a long ways to go for Kaaya to develop and learn the ropes in the NFL, but one thing is clear: Kaaya will enter training camp with a lot of ground to cover to catch Rudock for the backup quarterback job.
#LONGSNAPPERWATCH2017 is over
Surprisingly, #LONGSNAPPERWATCH2017 came to an anticlimactic end on Thursday. This time, veteran Don Muhlbach won the job without the aid of an injury. Jimmy Landes was waived without ceremony this week after it was clear the Lions had what they wanted in Muhlbach. On Thursday, Caldwell expressed his extreme confidence in the 35-year-old. “Muhlbach is our guy and that’s where we are at this point. He’s been great for us,” Caldwell said.