The Detroit Lions are off on Thursday for a day of rest. Four days of practices are in the books, and a lot has transpired since camp opened on Sunday. With the day of rest, now is as good of a time as any to reflect on what we’ve learned over the past four days.
The left tackle job is very much wide open
When Cyrus Kouandjio was placed on the Non-Football Injury list early last week, it was starting to look like Greg Robinson had a clear track to the starting left tackle job. However, Robinson was placed on the same list just days later. Both players were taken off the list before the start of camp, but both started with limited participation.
With the door open for some additional competition, undrafted rookie Storm Norton ended up taking first-team reps on Monday. Though his play was reportedly adequate, Norton was demoted back to a backup role when Kouandjio and Robinson were healthy enough to participate in padded team drills.
At this point, it looks like the competition is back to Kouandjio vs. Robinson, but there’s no clear leader through four practices.
It’s time to get aboard the Kenny Golladay Hype Train
Much was made about the Lions’ third-round pick during organized team activities and minicamp, but overhyping rookies before the pads come on is an annual tradition. However, Golladay has kept the hype going through four days of practice in front of fans and media.
He's on fire again. The hype train is almost unstoppable at this point.— Brett Whitefield (@BrettWhitefield) August 2, 2017
Kenny Golladay impresses me more and more after every rep. Displayed magnificent body control on a toe-tap TD in the endzone today. He good.— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) August 2, 2017
Golladay is making it hard for Lions fans to temper expectations for a rookie receiver, but if he continues to practice and play at this level, there will be no reason to temper such expectations.
Alex Carter should have moved to safety years ago
One of the more intriguing storylines this camp is how Alex Carter will respond to a position change in Year 3 of his NFL career. If four practices are any sign, Carter is doing all the right things as a safety.
I've been down on Alex Carter since the day he was drafted, but he looks so much better as a safety right now. Smooth & in great shape.— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) August 2, 2017
Carter was allowed to put on some extra pounds as a safety, and he’s managed to keep his athleticism, too.
This begs the question: What took the Lions so long to make this move? Many projected Carter to be a safety from the moment he entered the NFL Draft, yet Detroit stubbornly kept him at cornerback. Now it may be too late for Carter, as the Lions are particularly crowded at safety. Still, it’s good to see Carter not go down without a fight.
The Lions defensive line may be worse than we thought
Going into training camp, the Lions’ consensus weakness was their defensive line. Four days later, they may be in even worse shape. Ezekiel Ansah is still on the PUP list. Cornelius Washington got himself injured on Monday and was seen wearing a boot on his leg.
As a result, the Lions were using sixth-round rookie Jeremiah Ledbetter as a defensive end with the first-team defense. You can read that the logical way—the Lions are desperate for bodies and talent anywhere along the defensive line—or you can drink yourself helpless on the Kool-Aid and convince yourself this is just a sign Ledbetter is (led)better than advertised.
The one good development along the defensive line is that second-year Anthony Zettel has played well once the pads went on. Sadly, that’s where the optimism ends.
Darren Fells will be a huge part of this offense
Almost exactly a year ago, Lions fans were freaking out after Eric Ebron suffered what many feared to be a long-term injury during Detroit’s Mock Game at Ford Field. This year, Ebron is again suffering from a training camp injury, but the panic is almost completely absent.
That’s because the Lions went out and got Darren Fells in free agency. Fells has been the talk of camp and not for the reason many expected. Fells was known for his blocking skills earlier in his career, but he has impressed onlookers with his receiving skills throughout camp.
It’s not yet clear how serious Ebron’s injury is, but with Fells coming into his own as a receiver, there’s no reason to hurry him back.