Perhaps the most promising sign for the Lions was the performance of rookie Teez Tabor. Tabor has struggled through the first week and a half of Lions training camp, but he was turning reporters into believers on Thursday.
Biggest surprise so far: Teez Tabor twice in coverage against TY Hilton, and both times got PBUs. He's ballin right now— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) August 10, 2017
Scott Tolzien twice has wanted to go deep, twice checked down.— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) August 10, 2017
Then gorgeous pump-n-go to T.Y.
But Teez ripped it out. Catch and fumble?
T.Y. Hilton just got behind Tabor and caught nice deep ball from Tolzien. Teez may lack recovery speed but stripped Hilton late. #ColtsCamp— Arthur Arkush (@ArthurArkush) August 10, 2017
Since drafted in April, Tabor has faced a lot of criticism about his speed after running an extremely slow 4.62 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That speed has manifested itself in poor coverage throughout Lions training camp, especially when put into press-man coverage situations.
However, many argue that Tabor thrives in off-coverage and shines when put into game-like situations. Today’s joint practice seems to support that theory.
But Tabor wasn’t the only defensive back making plays on Thursday. Darius Slay hauled in two interceptions in the first hour of practice:
Darius Slay just made a bobbling INT on the sideline. Impressive play. I think Colts UDFA Phillip Walker was the QB.— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) August 10, 2017
Darius Slay just picked off his second pass of the day, this time in red zone defense— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) August 10, 2017
Slay, who has been one of the top cornerbacks in the league over the past few years, said last year that he’d like to add more turnovers to his game. “I’ve got to have interceptions,” Slay told ESPN in 2016. “I gots to have ’em. I’ll be knocking the ball down, do all that. When it’s time to make the big plays, turn the ball over, I need to be a turnover machine.”
Though Slay made a few huge, game-winning plays near the end of games last year, he still only finished with two interceptions.
Not to be outdone by his fellow rookie, Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis also made an impression in front of local media on Thursday:
Jarrad Davis just made a POP in goal line drills. Could hear it 50 feet away clearly.— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) August 10, 2017
For a Lions team that had very few playmakers on defense last year and created just 14 turnovers (28th), it is encouraging to see the positive reports coming in about the Lions defense, even if it is against a depleted Colts offense.