The first fully open day of training camp is in the books, an exciting time of year when we get our first look at the roster and can start looking ahead to actual NFL football. It was so hot at training camp that the media folks’ cups were melting, but the players on the field still played hard for the coaches, and there wasn’t any noticeable moping around on the field despite the heat. Like any day, there were ups and downs for players, and while no one can ever claim to have watched every player for every rep of camp, we’ve done our very best to come close. I spent most of camp hanging with our own Alex Reno, Lions Wire writer Erik Schlitt, Pro Football Focus’ Brett Whitefield and our close friend, the Respected Madman, Mathis. Most of these observations are mine, but occasionally they were mentioned by one of these fine folks on plays I missed.
Stock Up: Darren Fells, TE
No player had a better day than one of the newest Detroit Lions, Darren Fells. The former Arizona Cardinals blocking specialist looked crisp in blocking drills, like you would expect, but surprised many by just dominating every rep he took as a receiver. Whether it was poor linebackers trying to cover him or a defensive back, the big, athletic tight end skillfully boxed them out with his oversized frame and brought in pass after pass from whichever quarterback threw his way. The idea of two tight end sets becoming a staple of this offense was already at the fore of our minds, but if Fells continues to play like this, it may be tough to keep him off the field.
Stock Down: Cole Wick, TE
Cole Wick was a camp superstar in 2016 and expectations were similarly high coming into 2017. It was even more exciting to note that it was Cole Wick taking the first-team reps when Eric Ebron went down with a minor hamstring injury on Sunday. Unfortunately that didn’t translate today, as Wick was not good in any of the receiving drills I saw. He adjusted well to an off-target pass, but dropped it and let another go right through his hands. With Fells and Michael Roberts playing well and others nipping at his heels, Wick can’t afford days like this one.
Stock Up: Alex Carter, FS
There has been some dust up over Alex Carter moving to safety and fans have seemed relatively split on the idea. Based on today, that move was absolutely essential for his development in many ways. Carter moved very well in DB drills and flashed the athleticism that made him an early draft choice in the first place. There isn’t much to add on team drills, but Carter showed some excellent special teams work early in practice. With Don Carey down with injury and now potentially Tavon Wilson out as well, Carter has a better-than-no chance of making the final roster.
Stock Down: Jared Abbrederis, WR
No player received more hype from OTAs and minicamp than former Packers receiver Jared Abbrederis. Expectations were high, and as someone I liked coming out of Wisconsin, I expected to see more of what they were saying about him in camp. I can comfortably say that Jared Abbrederis was the worst receiver on the field for the first day of open camp, dropping one easy pass and gator handing another so badly that somewhere Brandon Pettigrew perked his ears up. I’ve seen guys bounce back from bad days before, so this isn’t an end all for him, but it was a really bad day.
Stock Up: Dontez Ford, WR
Speaking of Golden Tate, he said one #Lions player standing out to him so far has been WR Dontez Ford, a UDFA signing out of Pitt.— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) July 31, 2017
Dontez Ford is a relatively unheralded receiver out of Pitt who had only 46 catches for 843 yards over his three year college career. He didn’t have a phenomenal game, but he had a notable one in that expectations were very low and he still managed to show up. Ford caught several passes, each of which were difficult to corral given that he was trying to reign in wild throws from Jake Rudock and Brad Kaaya, but his ability to adjust to the ball while it was in the air was impressive. Whether he can sustain that level of play is up to him, but he went from unknown to someone I’m going to keep an eye on.
Stock Down: Antwione Williams, LB
It seemed like every other post I made about a linebacker getting beaten in coverage was Antwione Williams. The second year SAM isn’t expected to play in coverage a whole lot given his position, but it’s probably going to be a problem if his responsibilities ever fall into the realm of trying to cover anybody. The linebackers as a whole were poor in coverage today, but Williams was the worst of the bunch.
Normally I only put guys on here who have noticeably ‘moved the needle,’ but since this is the first one, I’m going to use this as a sort of baseline. So I’m hitting everybody. It’s essentially a net positive or net negative, even if only just.
Ameer Abdullah, RB - Abdullah looks to be cutting and moving just like he did pre-injury with no apparent slow down.
Jamal Agnew, CB - Agnew has rockets for feet and he impressed as a nickel and blitzer.
Matt Asiata, RB - Asiata didn’t look great running, but he did some neat things as a receiver, at one point stealing Antwione Williams’ soul.
Thurston Armbrister, LB - The sole pass breakup I saw from the linebackers, even if it wasn’t really his skill that led to it, is notable.
Brandon Barnes, TE - Barnes had at least one good catch and never looked out of place.
Alex Barrett, DE - Barrett got some reps due to how thin the position is, and he wasn’t really out of place. The team even dropped him to the flats in coverage a couple times.
Nick Becton, OT - Becton was there less than a day and already getting second-team reps. Yeah, it’s due to injuries, but still, a good start.
Jace Billingsley, WR - Billingsley only had one bad rep that I saw, and it was just an overthrow from Stafford. Maybe I should ding him for being too short?
Joe Dahl, OG - Dahl is the second-team LG, meaning he may have leapfrogged Laken Tomlinson.
Jarrad Davis, LB - Davis isn’t a savior of this defense and will likely struggle if the team can’t find a pass rush. Still, he’s the best linebacker the Lions have so far.
Graham Glasgow, OG - If there’s a competition at LG, it isn’t much of one.
Kenny Golladay, WR - Believe the hype.
Tion Green, RB - Only caught him on two plays, but one was a good passing rep where he caught a tough pass, earning cheers from the crowd.
Mike James, RB - James had a nice catch while being covered by Antwione Williams.
T.J. Jones, WR- Jones was the first player on the field and one of the first to rotate into team drills.
Leo Koloamatangi, OC - I regret taking him off my roster prediction. He’s held onto second-team OC and may make the active roster. One of the only standouts on the OL.
Nevin Lawson, CB - Lawson looked good both in movement drills and team drills.
Jeremiah Ledbetter, DT - One of the only DL to stand out in unpadded practice, Ledbetter stuffed a Matt Asiata run late in camp with quick penetration.
Khari Lee, TE - Lee had a good day as a pass catcher, a bit unexpected.
Cornelius Lucas, OT - Lucas buried Pat O’Connor on one play, and it was the only play I noticed him.
Rolan Milligan, SS - Milligan didn’t do much in team drills, but he was a much smoother athlete than I expected in position drills.
Storm Norton, OT - Who’s a starting OT? This guy!
Glover Quin, FS - A safety who still moves like a cornerback.
Michael Rector, WR - Expectations weren’t high, but Rector played well in camp.
Theo Riddick, RB - Riddick looks ready to get back to business.
Michael Roberts, TE - Roberts route running looked much better than expected, as did his hands.
Darius Slay, CB - It’s possible he’s even better than he was in 2016.
Ryan Spadola, WR - Spadola found success running deep both Sunday and Monday.
Travis Swanson, OC - Swanson looks back to form, a good sign for the team going forward.
Golden Tate, WR - Tate still looks fantastic and had the catch of the day in double coverage.
Robert Tonyan, TE - Tonyan made a couple nice catches.
Rick Wagner, OT - The only OT who looked consistently good.
Charles Washington, SS- Washington didn’t play all that well, but it was he who came in when Tavon Wilson went down.
Zach Zenner, RB - Your second-team RB on the day.
Anthony Zettel, DE - Your future long snapper!
Johnson Bademosi, CB - Bademosi didn’t look good in defensive drills, though the team seemed determined to give him more snaps than everyone else.
Adairius Barnes, CB - I had high hopes for Barnes, and while he looks far better physically than the skinny cat that came into camp last year, his play needs to improve.
Nick Bellore, LB - Bellore joined the wounded today.
Quandre Diggs, CB - Diggs struggled in both movement and transition drills. He did nothing of note in team drills.
Eric Ebron, TE - Missing time is never fun.
D.J. Hayden, CB - I didn’t notice Hayden much aside from offhand remarks about how much bigger he is than the other nickels. Need to see more good plays.
Marvin Jones, WR- Jones was okay today. You expect starters to be more than okay.
Brad Kaaya, QB - He was really bad. Almost no redeeming factors to speak of.
Miles Killebrew, SS - Killebrew is a versatile and important piece of the defense, but he wasn’t good in coverage drills.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT - Storm Norton started at OT.
Desmond Lawrence, CB - Lawrence was the second-worst DB on the field.
Steve Longa, LB - Like the other linebackers, he struggled in coverage.
Keshawn Martin, WR - Martin wasn’t bad, but with so many standouts it can’t be good for him.
Pat O’Connor, DE - I only caught one rep from O’Connor and it was a very poor one where he got beaten badly by Lucas.
Kasey Redfern, P - Sam Martin is going to be healthy to start the season.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB - Coverage drills were not kind to the rookie.
Greg Robinson, OT - Robinson has now watched Cyrus Kouandjio and Storm Norton take first-team LT reps.
Jake Rudock, QB - I came into camp expecting some improvement from Rudock. I did not see any.
Teez Tabor, CB - An up-and-down day for Tabor, think it ends as a net negative but only a bit.
Noel Thomas, WR - Thomas made a day of it on Sunday, but was up and down on Monday.
Josh Thornton, CB - Thornton was the worst DB on the field on Monday.
Laken Tomlinson, OG - Not in contention for LG, maybe not even on the roster.
Cornelius Washington, DE - Washington left with injury and did not return.
Tavon Wilson, SS - Wilson started to play well, but was injured, leaving the door open to Killebrew to steal his job away.
Paul Worrilow, LB - I didn’t see any reps of note for Worrilow... come to think of it, that might be a good thing considering coverage drills.
No notes (Drill limitations a factor)
Brandon Copeland, DE - Copeland didn’t do anything to stand out today, playing exclusively at DE from what I saw.
Ego Ferguson, DT - I was actively trying to find Ferguson to watch him today and I could not. Either means low reps or forgettable ones.
Bruce Gaston, DT- Gaston was excused from practice due to a death in the family, according to Jim Caldwell..
Jordan Hill, DT - DL are at an inherent disadvantage until the pads come on.
Kerry Hyder, DE - Hyder didn’t do anything of note.
T.J. Lang, OG - Lang sat the day out.
Don Muhlbach, LS - Probably not a good thing that Anthony Zettel just started long snapping and looked just as good...
Haloti Ngata, DT - Not much to say about the big man.
Matt Prater, K - Still the boss.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT - Like the others, not much to say.
Matt Rotheram, OG - Not sure he played at all.
Akeem Spence, DT - Nothing to say.
Matthew Stafford, QB - About to be the richest player in the NFL, still awesome.
Dwayne Washington, RB - No reps of note.
Tahir Whitehead, LB - No reps of note.